O2 & Vodafone Earn Security Certs in the UK

O2’s recent announcement of a No.10 tariff to bolster third party organizations comes shortly after the company became the first mobile operator to be awarded with CAS (T) – [secure and government approved network certification] in the United Kingdom. Now O2 and Vodafone are staking their claims as the best choice for government officials, who are most concerned about their security.


Photo: Monika Wisniewska

O2 is leaving no stone unturned to market its achievement of being the first mobile operator to achieve the CESG Assured Services (Telecommunications) (CAS (T)).

Meanwhile, Vodafone is also providing safe and secure services. It recently became the first mobile operator and the first multinational company to be granted the prestigious Cyber Essentials Plus certificate, which is the latest enhanced cyber security accreditation from the UK government. Vodafone was the first telecom company to get this certificate, as it scored a 100 percent rate after auditing tests using the latest standards.

Among the multiple critical roles assigned to the CESG, is the role of an advisor to the government about the technical aspects of Information Security. It works in the capacity of the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, along with being GCHQ’s Information security arm.

Vodafone strengthened its case by pulling the Minister of Culture and Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, to their side. The Minister remarked that Vodafone UK is leading the fight for cyber security by becoming the first mobile operator in the country to be granted the prestigious Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.

O2 UK’s Tenner a Month

Riding high after being granted the GESG accreditation, O2 recently launched a new scheme for government and charity types. Commonly called ‘tenner a month,’ the two year contract is available with options for Samsung Galaxy S3 mini and Nokia 635. This 4G contract is available for data as well as voice devices. While the voice users would get 1GB data and unlimited call minutes, the data users would get to use the 5GB without any voice option.

According to O2’s MD of Public Sector Business, Billy D’Arcy, the tenner a month scheme is aimed at reducing the costs and enhancing the productivity of the public sector. This would ensure that government officials have their hands on state of the art digital technology, thereby enabling them to serve citizens in the best manner possible. He gave an example, saying that the company aims at equipping doctors with the technology that enables remote diagnoses or critical information transfer through apps.

The users opting for this tariff would get a number of benefits including a completely certified data-wipe of the handsets currently used, error-free transition from current services to the new technology, and recycling of all the old devices.

Once the two year contract ends, the organization would claim the ownership of the device. The users can also opt out before two years by ending the contract before the time period. The number of the phone would be owned by the public authority only. This particular tariff can be bought using a Public Sector Network Scheme.

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone CEO spoke about mobile network security last year at the Mobile World Congress. He stressed upon the fact that mobile networks have a critical role to play in selling security works. Talking about BAE Systems Detica, he said that the ‘over-the-top’ companies can’t fill this void.

The last thing the government would want is public spying to extract their private conversations, after all.

US Phone Security

The US government’s preference for Android was highlighted in a CNN report released in 2012. Moreover, a number of phones belonging to government officials had a customized version of Android. This practice spanned across a large number of government contractors and federal agencies.

The US soldiers were the first recipients of smartphones. Second in line for receiving these devices were the federal agencies that used them to communicate with their officers when they weren’t in their offices. Afterwards, similar phones were provided to the workers of local corporation and government.

However, iOS still seems to be the experts’ choice when it comes to secure operating systems. An intricate attention to security at the OS and app level makes it an ideal operating system. Second in line is Blackberry, whose security features include hundreds of security tools, offered by the BB Enterprise Server. The recent acquisition of Secusmart is a major attempt by Blackberry to regain its market share.

Germany’s Ministry of Interior disclosed that its officials use as many as 3,000 such encrypted devices from Blackberry. The company hopes to receive a similar response from other governments after the acquisition of Secusmart.