Federal contractor alters 'thousands' of iPads for secure government use

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
CACI International Inc., a contractor that delivers various information technology services to the U.S. government, said that it has modified the hardware of thousands of iPads so that the Apple tablets can be used securely by government officials.

CACI


The security firm's chief executive officer Dan Allen told Bloomberg that the iPad modifications are an example of a push toward mobile technology, a strategy being implemented as a result of reduced revenue associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unlike conventional security measures that use software to handicap or otherwise alter mobile devices, CACI's solution involves altering the iPad's hardware. According to Allen, the iPad's wireless capabilities and front and rear-facing cameras pose the greatest threat to security in top-secret installations.

?It?s a neutered iPad,? Allen said. ?We?re working on how do we effectively brand it.?

The executive did not specify what techniques are being used to secure the iPad's hardware.

A number of U.S. officials are known to use Apple products, including President Barack Obama, who received a pre-release version of the iPad 2 from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Allen noted that the iPads seen being used by top government officials are, ?Most likely a product that either came from us or came from someone we work with.?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    They'll still figure out how to use them to view porn.
  • Reply 2 of 33
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I bet they're installed in big padlocked diving helmets. That would be cool.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    Leave it to governments to find a way to make something more expensive.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    "It's a neutered iPad," Allen said. "We're working on how do we effectively brand it."


    Lol.

  • Reply 5 of 33


    We're working on how do we effectively brand it?


     


    If it's the cameras being rendered unusable, how about calling them blindPads, no-i-Pads, or i-less-Pads?

  • Reply 6 of 33
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member


    ...but, but, but, such a thing is unpossible, iOS devices are locked into iTunes and the Apple ecosystem.


     


    I read it on the Internet.

  • Reply 7 of 33
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member
    And rendered them all warranty less via third party modification. If they did them literally themselves

    What's more logical is that this company work as a middle man to arrange for Apple to build a guaranteed amount of units that just don't have cameras etc installed.
  • Reply 8 of 33


    This is reminiscent of what the Singapore government did - they arranged for the cameras to be removed from iPhones before giving them to their military personnel. There is also a cottage industry providing a service to "neuter" cameras on all varieties of smartphones. Their customers are typically companies which ban camera phones.

  • Reply 9 of 33
    neilmneilm Posts: 589member
    So they can play Angry Birds - Classified Edition.
  • Reply 10 of 33

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    ...but, but, but, such a thing is unpossible, iOS devices are locked into iTunes and the Apple ecosystem.


     


    I read it on the Internet.



     


    I wonder if whomever questioned my background on us doing this at NeXT and Apple will realize there is Consumer, Enterprise [business iOS] and then Government and large paying customers. Custom down to what you need.

  • Reply 11 of 33
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    We are not allowed to take pictures of our federal facility.  Even if we are off base and still in an official capacity we cannot take pictures of each other without consent of the person we are photographing.  So an iPad with a camera makes the chance of a violation of federal law highly likely.

  • Reply 12 of 33
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NeilM View Post



    So they can play Angry Birds - Classified Edition.


     


    Ha.  Or  Angry Birds - Predator Drone Pilot version!


     


    --


     


    Companies have been removing or covering cameras on iPhones (and other phones) for years, so they can be used where such things are not allowed (in business or government).  


     


    On the CACI website, they write that they "neuter iPads, for example, by physically removing any components that elicit communications, signals, or detectable energy-based output. "   Sounds like they make them TEMPEST safe.


     


    For really secure devices, the government tends toward OSes with source code they can review and/or modify.  That's why Android is a top choice in that area.   For example, last year at this time, NSA released their own security-hardened version, called SE Android.   Supposedly, Apple refuses to share their OS code, although this might change under Cook.

  • Reply 13 of 33
    neilm wrote: »
    So they can play Angry Birds - Classified Edition.
    Zero Dark Piggy
  • Reply 14 of 33
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,661member
    They probably covered the cameras with duct tape.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    adamcadamc Posts: 568member
    [quote name="SpamSandwich" url="/t/155884/federal-contractor-alters-thousands-of-ipads-for-secure-government-use#post_2274212"]They'll still figure out how to use them to view porn.[/quote
    Since we are on this subject download a VPN app preferably a paid one and you are ready to go.

    No need to figure out as simple as abc.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    This interview sounds like it was done in a bar after too many drinks.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    You can disable the cameras using configuration profiles, why bother hacking the hardware?
  • Reply 18 of 33
    I have heard from a well connected source that they are working on one for the navy....
    ...
    wait for it...

    It's going to be called the aye-iPad!!!!

    ;)
  • Reply 19 of 33
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    kevinneal wrote: »
    You can disable the cameras using configuration profiles, why bother hacking the hardware?

    Because the government doesn't generally allow software solutions to problems like that. They assume the worst case that the software can be hacked to re-enable the camera. If you remove the camera, the risk is eliminated.

    As to the warranty issue, there are a couple of solutions:

    1. The cameras can be removed and stored. If there's a problem, they can replace the camera and still get warranty service (unless they damaged it).

    2. Or perhaps they've calculated the risk of failure and simply added a percentage to the government price that's sufficient to allow THEM to replace the defective ones without going through Apple's warranty service.

    3. They keep a small stock of spares. If one breaks, they fix it themselves, reinstall the camera, and sell it on eBay. There are service centers that repair iPads and iPhones reasonably inexpensively, so there's no reason they can't do it.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,282member


    It's not just the cameras according to the both the AI and original Bloomberg article. They're also "neutering" the wireless capabilities. It's not entirely clear from the article if CACI is working with Apple directly on this or not. The way it's worded seems to imply they are.


     


    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-08/apple-ipads-neutered-for-u-s-government-as-caci-targets-mobile.html

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