iPhones, 'droids go to WAR: US soldiers invade TOP-SECRET cloud
Chiefs stop short of letting BYOD tech onto classified networks
Spooks and soldiers will get iPhones and Android kit after the top brass promised to open up its top-secret communication networks to handsets beyond BlackBerrys.
A new US Department of Defense implementation plan - which covers the Army, Navy, Air Force, CIA and tech research group DARPA - will allow employees of all levels to use the latest and best commercial mobiles, including those from Apple and Samsung. "Classified voice and data communications up to classification level of top secret will be supported", according to the blueprint.
The document [PDF], issued today by DoD chief information officer Teri Takai, reveals that the US government will buy 600,000 mobile devices from a range of suppliers. The department currently uses 450,000 BlackBerry handsets. The war on America's enemies will be partly won on the mobile internet, said Takai:
This is not simply about embracing the newest technology - it is about keeping the department’s workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cyber-security play a critical role in mission success.
Putting US soldiers in the cloud will give them an edge, added the report:
The development of portable, cloud-enabled command-and-control capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly.
In a pilot study, DARPA will use "secure iPads" to access top-secret networks.
The department mulled the possibility of opening a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme to employees, but decided officially against it on the basis of the "security gap" in worker-bought devices. However, two developments could put it back on the table: hyper-secure virtual desktop software, and hardened devices built on secure crypto-processors (aka TPM chips) that separate the personal and professional uses of a phone.
DoD chiefs are also considering bolting future tech developments onto current commercial mobes - such as biometric checks and encrypted voice traffic. ®
Defence: Open source has the obvious advantage
Spooks and soldiers will get iPhones and Android kit
I should imagine that Android, for any military is a MUST - because it's open source, the Military would be able to compile their own versions of the software. True they could no doubt persuade the closed source guys to give access to the code also, but an OS that is inherently open source is a safer bet.
The reason? The military can fork the OS and make their own private "distro" of it, with tight control over every aspect, to keep the Chinese, Russians etc out. They would presumably call their Android Distro - "Terminator".
I strongly suspect that the US move is not about "latest shiny" or indeed any of the flannel they had to say on the subject. More that !=RIM is Canadian whereas Apple and certain other manufacturers are US companies.
Historically they've always been happier to hose their own industries with cash than buy stuff in. In fact, when forced to go elsewhere for kit in the past they've usually licensed it for domestic production rather than just buying the finished product.
Edit: Then again, when it comes to Apple, given the cyber scare stories you have to wonder at the wisdom of giving their military closed kit assembled in China. If I were the PLA, I'd be having a few quiet words with the lads at Foxconn about now.
 The sort of quiet words you listen to very carefully and then follow to the letter.
If the US military is smart enough, only the public-facing aspects of "secure iPads" would come from their plants. Secure elements are much more likely to come from American firms after they've been carefully vetted.
The move sounds more like a trend toward more diversity in the event Blackberry has trouble continuing operations in the medium term. In military terms, your basic contingency plan.