BlackBerry smartphones are set to be deployed throughout the US Department of Defence (DoD) following the approval of derived Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) on BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10.
Public Key Infrastructure will allow DoD workers to securely access data on DoD unclassified networks and will eliminate the need for users to rely on common access card hardware and software, according to BlackBerry.
The approval includes commercially available smartphones running BlackBerry OS version 7 or higher as well as BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.2 or higher.
Following the announcement David Kleidermacher, chief security officer of BlackBerry, said he is proud continued involvement with the US government.
"Security is the cornerstone of BlackBerry technology, which is why we have served as a proud and trusted mobile partner of government agencies for more than a decade," he said.
The approval comes after BlackBerry announced plans to buy emergency alerts firm AtHoc to expand its software portfolio and BBM messaging service.
AtHoc provides networked crisis communications, which enable emergency services and major corporations to reach large groups of people through a software platform which can send alerts via iOS and Android smartphones, digital displays, IP phones, radios and sirens.
Such alerts are sent during times when lives are in danger or during business continuity operations when real-time messaging is needed to rapidly convey information to a mass audience.
AtHoc counts the US Department of Defence and Department of Homeland Security among its customers, and the software is used in public and private sector organisations, including in the healthcare and industrial sectors.
John Chen, BlackBerry's chief executive, said the acquisition is part of the company's plan to invest in systems that involve security, privacy and the Internet of Things, and will bolster BlackBerry's reach in the public sector and regulated organisations.
"We have a proud history of securing mission-critical communications for the public sector as well as enterprises operating in the most highly regulated industries," he said.
"AtHoc's technology and expertise will play a key role as BlackBerry works to connect and secure a broad range of endpoints."
BlackBerry has cited the potential for AtHoc to be integrated into BBM Meetings, the company's mobile conferencing service for businesses.
Guy Miasnik, chief executive at AtHoc, said that the deal will help the alerts firm to expand.
"Becoming part of BlackBerry will give us the ability to scale more quickly to expand our global reach and introduce new applications for the AtHoc platform, while continuing to serve our government and enterprise customers," he said.
Neil Mawston, executive director for wireless device strategies at analyst house Strategy Analytics, told V3 the acquisition will strengthen BlackBerry's software portfolio for security-sensitive organisations and governments.
"BlackBerry can now offer crisis alerts from AtHoc as a value-add alongside normal everyday messaging on the popular BBM service," he said.
"However, BlackBerry has purchased several companies in the past year, including WatchDox and Secusmart, and must be careful not to over-extend itself by buying too many companies too quickly."
Mawston's observations on BlackBerry's potential to over-expand come as the firm revealed plans to cut its workforce in a bid to streamline operations. It could be argued that acquiring a new company is in opposition to this strategy.
The firm remained vague on the details of the acquisition, despite V3's request for more information.
BlackBerry revenues have suffered dramatically from poor smartphone sales, and the investment in a software firm appears to be a move to improve its fortunes away from the hardware market.
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