Feeds

GCHQ imposes Whitehall iPhone ban

BlackBerry secures monopoly

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The image of ministers and their advisors hunched over their BlackBerries is set to become an enduring legacy of the New Labour era, as it's emerged that RIM will maintain its stranglehold on the government smartphone market under the coalition.

A Whitehall iPhone embargo is in place because encryption and electronics experts at the Cheltenham-based eavesdropping agency GCHQ have not so far approved the device for secure official business. Apple-fanciers will have to make do with a BlackBerry.

The effective ban is imposed by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), GCHQ's most outward-facing unit. Its job is to test the security of communications for all parts of government.

"The only mobile telecoms or personal digital assistant devices that have been issued to Ministers of the Department [of Health] are BlackBerry devices," explained Conservative minister Simon Burns on Monday.

"The Department does not issue Apple iPhones to staff as these are not approved for Government use by the CESG. CESG is the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ which aims to protect and promote the vital interests of the United Kingdom by providing advice and assistance on the security of communications and electronic data."

It's unclear whether CESG has tested the iPhone and found it too insecure, or if Apple simply hasn't sought approval. Neither Cheltenham nor Cupertino is known for openness on such matters.

RIM is meanwhile free to brag about its end-to-end encrypted product and its CESG certification, won in 2006.

Government BlackBerries use Triple DES and Advanced AES for data in transit, and AES to scramble locally stored data. They are assured to communicate official material up to the Restricted level, where a breach is considered undesirable but not damaging to national security.

Not that any phone can be completely immune to security breaches. In 2008 it was reported that an aide to Gordon Brown had his BlackBerry stolen on a visit to Beijing. It is suspected he was the victim of a honeytrap operation by Chinese intelligence after picking up a local woman in a nightclub. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.