Samsung is on the verge of inking a deal with the FBI to become one of the agency's mobile phone suppliers.
Citing a number of unnamed sources "familiar with the matter", Reuters reported that the FBI is close to finalising a deal with the Korean firm to equip its staff and agents with Samsung Galaxy devices. Former enterprise heavyweight BlackBerry currently holds the primary contract to supply the FBI's 35,000 employees with work handsets.
It is unclear whether the FBI plans to replace the Canadian firm or merely amend its contract to offer staff the choice between BlackBerry or Samsung handsets. At the time of publishing the FBI had not responded to V3's request for comment on the report. Samsung declined to comment.
However, a BlackBerry spokesman said: "We have been honored to serve the FBI for many years without a single security breach. BlackBerry understands that our customers, more than ever, must ensure the security of their mobile communications from malicious activity. We also understand that untested and unproven mobile solutions can be risky and potentially pose threats to enterprise or national security. That is why we have taken BlackBerry security to a new level with BlackBerry 10 for enterprise.
"We cannot comment on unannounced decisions of others, but remain committed to ensuring our US and other customers have the world's most secure mobile solutions."
The news comes during a heated battle between smartphone providers to wrestle control of the government and enterprise device space from BlackBerry. The Canadian firm was traditionally the key stakeholder in the market thanks to the advanced security features of its devices and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) technology. In recent years BlackBerry has struggled to retain control of the space as pressure from staff to use the more popular – yet ultimately consumer – Apple iOS and Google Android handsets has led firms to adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
BlackBerry attempted to fix this with its latest BB10 operating system. The OS is designed for BYOD use and features services like BlackBerry Balance, which lets users create separate sandboxed work and personal spaces. Samsung released a similar Knox sandboxing service on its Galaxy S4. Though Samsung is yet to fully clarify how businesses and end users can activate the service, reports have broken suggesting that the UK government is about to approve Knox-enabled devices for use in the public sector.
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