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Government officials banned from using iPhones

Apple's smartphone not approved by the CESG

Government ministers are not allowed to use Apple's iPhone but BlackBerries are fine, presumably for security reasons, according Health Secretary Simon Burns.

Burns was asked a question on Monday in Parliament by Tom Watson, a Labour member of Parliament active in technology issues. The written answer was posted on Parliament's website.

Watson asked specifically what kind of mobile devices have been issued to officials in Burn's ministry. Burns responded only RIM's Blackberry is allowed.

"The Department does not issue Apple iPhones to staff as these are not approved for Government use by the CESG," Burns said.

"CESG is the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ which aims to protect and promote the vital interests of the United Kingdom by providing advice and assistance on the security of communications and electronic data."

Apple's iPhone has seen wide adoption among large organisations, including banks. The company has made improvements to the device in regards to security since its release in 2007, but security researchers have occasionally found flaws.

Smartphones in general have been much less affected by the explosion in malicious software that targets mostly Windows-based desktops but analysts predict smartphones will increasingly become targeted by hackers as their usage numbers rise.

In 2009, security researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner found a flaw in the iPhone's SMS function that may have allowed an attacker to remotely install and run other software code with root access to the phone. The flaw was quickly patched by Apple.

Other problems have been found to affected 'jailbroken' iPhones, where its owner has modified the software in way that enables them to download unauthorized applications. Apple strongly warns users not to jailbreak their phones.

See also: How to secure your mobile phone

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