They're good enough for government work: The U.S. Department of Defense has cleared use of devices running the BlackBerry 10 operating system and Samsung’s secure version of Android called Knox.
So far, this means that both the BlackBerry Z10 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 have beaten Apple’s iPhone to achieve DoD security clearance, although iOS 6 is expected to get approval this month, according to a Reuters report.
The Pentagon also cleared the use of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets using its Enterprise Service 10 system for use on Defense Department networks, in a bid to establish a “a multivendor environment that supports a variety of state-of-the-art devices and operating systems.”
BlackBerry dominates DoD
The DoD has some 600,000 smartphone and tablet users, most of whom are BlackBerry users (around 470,000), and just 41,000 Apple users and 8700 with Android phones, most of them in testing programs. The Pentagon denied reports earlier this year that it is looking to abandon the use of BlackBerry device, but by officially clearing Samsung Knox, and soon iOS 6, the Pentagon will put more pressure on BlackBerry, which has seen its market share slide in recent years in favor of Android and iPhones.
The DoD clearance is a significant step for Samsung, which becomes the first Android manufacturer to the get approval. The company worked with U.S. National Security Agency to develop Knox, basically a version of Android with added layers or hardware and software security protection.
More specifically, Samsung Knox has a customizable secure boot, a container that isolates enterprise apps and encrypts data, and a so-called per-app VPS, which allows admins to configure, provision, and manage the use of Virtual Private Networks on a per-application basis.
So far, only the Samsung Galaxy S4 runs Knox, making it the only DoD-approved Android phone as well. Samsung intends to introduce Knox on some of its other devices too, but as reported last month, the launch is delayed until summer in order to run additional tests. Meanwhile, the UK government has not yet cleared BlackBerry 10 for use in classified government communications.