Pentagon to open networks to iOS, Android devices in 2014

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The U.S. Department of Defense will open its networks to smartphones and tablets from Apple and Android device manufacturers beginning in February of 2014, as one of the nation's largest employers expands beyond BlackBerry and into a more "platform agnostic" IT policy.

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The Department of Defense on Tuesday released a new plan for speeding adoption of mobile devices ? both secure classified and unclassified ? as well as applications. The goal for the Department is to establish wireless voice, video, and data capabilities by October of 2013, with wider device availability beginning next year.

One component of the DoD's plan will be to move away from its current BlackBerry standard and toward a more "platform agnostic" policy, integrating devices running Apple's iOS as well as Google's Android operating system. A DoD representative told AppleInsider that this does not mean a full abandonment of BlackBerry's platform, as was the case with other large organizations such as Home Depot.

"It won't be a shotgun approach, where everyone gets the same apps and devices," said Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, speaking with AppleInsider. "The key takeaway is that it's a multi-vendor solution. We will have a DoD-wide device management system and a DoD-wide app storefront."

Currently, the Department has just over 600,000 mobile devices in use in both standard operations and pilot programs. That includes roughly 470,000 BlackBerry devices, about 41,000 iOS devices, and around 80,000 devices running Android.

Pickart pointed out in the interview that this is not a move to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) standard at the Department ? at least not for now.

"It's not BYOD; it is the department migrating to a multi-vendor environment that is going to include more than BlackBerry currently," he explained. "BYOD is a long-term objective, but we're just not there yet. The technology is there, but things like security, we're not quite there yet."

BlackBerry's struggling platform will remain a part of the Pentagon's mobile device strategy. The Department is evaluating the mobile maker's recently released BlackBerry 10 platform with an eye toward integrating it into operations. BlackBerry's longtime focus on mobile security is a major reason behind the DoD's continued interest in the platform. Pickart said, though, that Android and iOS have made strides in that area as well.

"Other systems are maturing in their capability to provide greater security with their systems. The level of security with BlackBerry has been above most, but others are moving toward that and are achieving that."

The new policy will also come with a push to speed up the rate at which the DoD is able to acquire new technologies. Pickart spoke of a "constant tech refresh spiral," in which the department streamlines its technology buying in order to more readily adopt new new devices and technologies, thereby keeping pace with organizations in the civilian sector.

The new policy, he says, will allow the numerous components within the department to tailor their technology orders to their specific purposes.

"I think the best way to describe why we're moving to more than just one is that one size doesn't fit all," Pickart explained. "Each organization is going to have different needs. By having a family of mobile devices from which we can choose, we'll be better able to tailor devices and offerings to organizations' needs."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,216member
    I'll feel a lot safer when the ban any form of Windows.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    Finally! Pentagon employees can join the post-2007 world.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,028member


    DoD can try all they want to to single-handedly resurrect RIMM/Blackberry/or whatever they call themselves today but it won't help. If you see Blackberry's being purchased in bulk, then you know DoD/Pentagon is still hanging onto them. It's the "secure classified" part I have a problem with and a feature iOS and Android devices might not be able to compete in. This means encrypted voice communications from one end to the other, currently using Blackberry's servers to manage the encryption. Of course, you can never guarantee who is on the other end of the line (same with computers) or around the corner so having classified discussions from one country to the next will have guaranteed problems. I hope Apple can figure out a way to provide encrypted communications with a failsafe method for guaranteeing who is connected on the other end as well as in-between (NSA/CIA/FBI/NCIS :-) can't have a backdoor key or any way of breaking into these communications or they are worthless.

  • Reply 4 of 13
    What is it, exactly, that BB makes it so much more secure than the competition? Certainly it cannot be their email config, leaving the country and all that. Is their communication encrypted at a level that competitors can't match?
  • Reply 5 of 13

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    What is it, exactly, that BB makes it so much more secure than the competition? Certainly it cannot be their email config, leaving the country and all that. Is their communication encrypted at a level that competitors can't match?


     


    Not exactly... much more too it.


     


    http://www.trendmicro.com/cloud-content/us/pdfs/business/reports/rpt_enterprise_readiness_consumerization_mobile_platforms.pdf

  • Reply 6 of 13
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    philboogie wrote: »
    What is it, exactly, that BB makes it so much more secure than the competition? Certainly it cannot be their email config, leaving the country and all that. Is their communication encrypted at a level that competitors can't match?

    I'm not exactly sure but what I have heard is that all other cell phones security has been called 'child's play' compared to BB.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    boeyc15 wrote: »

    Thanks. That was a good read. Basically it boils down to BB having their BES and BIS doing the security, with Apple catching up but nowhere near BB. It's funny to see how much more advanced Windows Phone software is compared to Android. (hmm, funny how the intonation differs when my iPad reads out 'iOS' versus 'Android'. Try that out: General/Accessibility/Speak Auto-text)
  • Reply 8 of 13
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    philboogie wrote: »
    Thanks. That was a good read. Basically it boils down to BB having their BES and BIS doing the security, with Apple catching up but nowhere near BB. It's funny to see how much more advanced Windows Phone software is compared to Android. (hmm, funny how the intonation differs when my iPad reads out 'iOS' versus 'Android'. Try that out: General/Accessibility/Speak Auto-text)

    It was indeed a good read. Very informative. One can easily see why many corporations will always stay with BB unless Apple can provide the level of security. It says something when governments have to threaten BB in order to access their citizen's emails, etc... like India did.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    After years of reading AI article titles about Pegatron as Pentagon we finally get one about the Pentagon and I read it as Pegatron.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    After years of reading AI article titles about Pegatron as Pentagon we finally get one about the Pentagon and I read it as Pegatron.

    Seems like someone finally erased Pegatron from the user dictionary which I'm going to have to do now.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,028member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post





    Thanks. That was a good read. Basically it boils down to BB having their BES and BIS doing the security, with Apple catching up but nowhere near BB. It's funny to see how much more advanced Windows Phone software is compared to Android. (hmm, funny how the intonation differs when my iPad reads out 'iOS' versus 'Android'. Try that out: General/Accessibility/Speak Auto-text)


    Did a quick web search and Cellcrypt has a product that does FIPS 140-2 certified end-to-end cellular encryption. Cellcrypt mobile seems to use IP but this is just one company trying to sell an encrypted phone solution. Government installations have invested heavily in BES and BIS servers but these seem to be the only good feature Blackberry has left. Once someone replicates these features, Blackberry won't have anything left. btw: The Blackberry systems aren't cheap.

  • Reply 12 of 13

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post


    Did a quick web search and Cellcrypt has a product that does FIPS 140-2 certified end-to-end cellular encryption. Cellcrypt mobile seems to use IP but this is just one company trying to sell an encrypted phone solution. Government installations have invested heavily in BES and BIS servers but these seem to be the only good feature Blackberry has left. Once someone replicates these features, Blackberry won't have anything left. btw: The Blackberry systems aren't cheap.



    I think it is more than that. but Im no expert.


    At this point our huge aerospace company( that now has many grounded aircraft due to li-ion battery woes), does not allow iOS devises to access company email and will not.Perhaps in the future the company network


    Our security IT mafia claims its because data (of some sort) goes to Apple servers and we cannot get access(for what ever reason) to Apple servers to do... something our Security/IT want to do. Im just the messenger... so to speak. I don't get it myself.  IMO... Apple is leaving huge money on the table if they had an 'enterprise' edition of itunes or what ever is needed to satisfy our SecurityIT mafia.

  • Reply 13 of 13
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post


    Our security IT mafia claims its because data (of some sort) goes to Apple servers and we cannot get access(for what ever reason) to Apple servers to do... (snip)




     


    Could be several things.  First thoughts --


     


    If you have debug reports turned on, it'll send crash logs back.  (I think this is the reason why many companies won't use Chrome.)


     


    iPhones call the mothership (over WiFi) about once a day with all the new hotspots and cell ids they've found, so that Apple can build and maintain its own location database. Hotspots are also sent immediately over the cell network during startup, call initiation, and if a call has problems.


     


    Sending hotspot info from inside a secure place is probably not on anybody's favorite security list.


     


    Quote:


    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    What is it, exactly, that BB makes it so much more secure than the competition? Certainly it cannot be their email config, leaving the country and all that. Is their communication encrypted at a level that competitors can't match?


     



    A good question, and here's a quick reply.  (The following applies to Enterprise level, not consumer BIS.)  The data comms look like this:  (NOC = Network Ops Center, BES = BB Enterprise Server)


     


    BB <--> tower <--> carrier <--(dedicated line) --> NOC <-- Internet --> BES <---> company 


     


    The path between the BB phone and the RIM NOC is the equivalent of a custom dedicated packet link.  (Think of it like the phone having a static IP address, but not using IP.)   This allows the NOC to do true push to the BB phone at any time without the BB having to poll the NOC (think of something like a UDP packet).  


     


    The NOC also does store and forward for BBs that leave comms for a while.  The NOC knows BBs by their PIN, which is also used to seed comm encryption, I believe.


     


    Conceptually, the BB and the NOC can be thought of as a single entity that would difficult to intercept.


     


    The NOC -> BES link is often over the regular Internet, using at least Triple DES encryption.  The important thing here is that the BES initiates contact with the NOC.  In other words, an outside source cannot try to contact a BES and pretend to be a NOC, since the comms start in the other direction.  Likewise, BES knows about authorized BBs and talks to them by PIN via the NOC.


     


    So a big difference between the RIM setup and all others like Exchange, is that it's the servers who initate push comms, not the devices, and the devices are known to the major components by their hardcoded PIN, not by volatile IP addresses.


     


    I apologize if this isn't a very clear explanation.  I'm a bit tired today, and it's been a couple of years since I last did BB and BES development.

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