Government staff not allowed to use iPhones

The Government will not issue Apple iPhones to Ministers of the Department Health Secretary, Simon Burns has said.

However, Blackberry devices are allowed.

The policy was outlined after a Labour member of Parliament Mr Watson asked which Ministers in his Department have been issued with  “(a) a Blackberry,  (b) an iPhone,  (c) another make of mobile telephone and  (d) a personal digital assistant supplied by the Department.”

The written answer was then published on the House of Commons website where Mr Burns wrote: “The only mobile telecoms or personal digital assistant devices that have been issued to Ministers of the Department are BlackBerry devices.

“These have been provided to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Anne Milton) and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Earl Howe). The Department does not issue Apple iPhones to staff as these are not approved for Government use by the CESG. 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.”

The Department would not say why iPhones had been blacklisted but our guess is that it’s to do with security. As a rule BlackBerry devices are less likely to be targeted by malicious software,Graham Cluley at Sophos told us.

In 2009, security researchers 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. Then there’s the jailbreak problem, which means users can download unauthorised apps without any security. Not that we would of course suggest that Ministers would carry such disregard for the iPhone OS.