RIM has just announced that the PlayBook has received FIPS 140-2 certification, making the BlackBerry PlayBook the first tablet certified for deployment within U.S. federal government agencies. No other tablet on the market has gained FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is required under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA). While some sites will claim that the iPad has made significant moves in government, from what we can tell it’s for very minimal use cases such as presentations and there doesn’t seem to be any significant deployment to date.
According to Bloomberg, the US Military has been testing tablets across all branches. The services are looking to tablets to replace laptops as well as paper manuals, maps, biometric devices and some communications tools. The U.S. Army is leaning toward the PlayBook because RIM “addressed security concerns from the get-go,” said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dosmann, who oversees mobile device pilot- testing for the Army’s cybersecurity division. Security remains an issue for Apple and may hold back wider use of iPads, he said.
The CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) does not recommend the iPad for the transmission of sensitive government information or for connection to government networks, due to the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) and the cellular network. Some of their specific issues include:
- IT policy settings for iOS devices lack ability to control all aspects of the device, and also lack sufficient granularity for the aspects that can be controlled.
- IT policy settings can only be “pushed” to the device if using MS Exchange.
It will take a long time for Apple and Android tablets to gain the same security certifications as the PlayBook and in that time RIM will have gained a tremendous amount of ground in government tablets. What we’re interested in seeing now is apps for government and military leveraging QNX and the PlayBook. Imagine the ability to call in an airstrike directly from a PlayBook; Amazing.