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BlackBerry 10 wins U.S. security clearance ahead of launch

Months ahead of its launch, the latest BlackBerry operating system has been certified for secure use by the U.S. government.

Research in Motion has won key government security certification for its BlackBerry 10 operating system months ahead of its launch, allowing the smartphone to be used in secure government workplaces.

The FIPS 140-2 certification signals that U.S. and Canadian government agencies, along with private firms, can deploy BlackBerry 10 smartphones as soon as they launch, with a guarantee that data stored on the devices is appropriately secured and encrypted.

FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) certification is issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and it's a must for mobile platforms before the U.S. government can use them for sending classified material.

RIM vice president of security product management Michael K. Brown said in a statement: "Achieving FIPS 140-2 certification means that BlackBerry 10 is ready to meet the strict security requirements of government agencies and enterprises at launch."

As of yet, no other smartphone operating system -- including those used by Apple, Google or Samsung, for instance -- has received FIPS 140-2 certification, despite recent reports that some U.S. government departments are looking to replace their BlackBerry smartphones with alternatives such as Android-powered devices or iPhones.

Under the system used by the U.K. and U.S. governments, BlackBerrys can be used to send and receive documents classified as 'restricted' level and below, but not information deemed secret or top secret.

The U.K. government has yet to grant BlackBerry 10 the same kind of security certification as its U.S. counterpart but passed BlackBerry 7 for use with sensitive material earlier this year.

A range of BlackBerry 10 smartphones are expected to launch in the first quarter of next year.