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Pentagon Approves Use of Apple iPhones, iPads

by Brendan McGarry on May 21, 2013

soldier_iPhone

The U.S. Defense Department has released a security guide for smart phones and tablet computers made by Apple Inc., setting the stage for their wider use on military networks.

The Pentagon’s Defense Information Systems Agency last week approved a so-called Security Technical Implementation Guide, or STIG, for devices running the iOS 6 operating system. The software developed by the Cupertino, Calif.-based company runs the latest versions of the iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iPod Touch.

The move “means that government-issued iOS 6 mobile devices are approved for use when connecting to [Defense Department] networks within current mobility pilots or the future mobile device management framework,” the agency said in a statement.

The decision will lead to more competition against BlackBerry, which makes the most widely used smart phone within the Defense Department.

“The release of the Apple iOS 6 STIG is a major stride in building a multi-vendor environment, supporting a diverse selection of devices and operating systems,” according to the statement.

The agency, based at Fort Meade, Md., earlier this month also approved software that controls the newest BlackBerry and Samsung devices, including the BlackBerry 10 operating system running the Z10 phone and the PlayBook tablet, as well as the Samsung Knox operating system running the Galaxy S4 phone. Knox is based on the Android operating system made by Google Inc.

The agency plans to award a contract to a company early this summer to begin building a system to manage mobile devices and and protect them from cyber attacks, according to spokeswoman Alana Casanova. The potential value of the deal wasn’t specified.

The Pentagon wants the management system and an associated application store to support at least 100,000 mobile devices from multiple vendors by February. The military uses about 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operations and testing. That includes about 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 Apple platforms and 8,700 Android-based systems.

Despite the push for more types of devices, the Defense Department has no plans to allow service members and civilians to use their own smart phones on defense networks.

Teri Takai, the department’s chief information officer, has said the recent bring-your-own-device trend in the civilian workplace “presents many compelling benefits,” though existing Pentagon policies and security vulnerabilities prevent adopting unapproved devices that are purchased outside of the government acquisition process.

 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Trooper2 May 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Must be a slow news day – this was published last Friday.

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DBOG May 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Its hard to believe that the military would do this, considering all of Apple products are manufactured in China, where the Chinese government could easily put in a hidden spy program…

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USS ENTERPRISE May 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Okay, it is NOT easy to bug and track one little iPhone. Its even harder to bug an entire batch of these things. You don't know where those phones will go, who will use them, or if they will go through random quality control tests, tests that would catch any listening devices. Also, just how will the Chinese get the information off of the phones?

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blight_ May 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

If a rootkit could be put on every phone you could do what most worms do: use regex to parse text/PDF/whathaveyou on each phone, or a keylogger. Apple went with walled garden specifically to avoid these kinds of issues, but if a user wants to jailbreak their phone to put whatever they want on their phone, they're taking things into their own hands. Not that someone won't expend the effort to try and find a 0-day exploit to execute code on an iOS platform that gets around the operating system's attempts to prevent unsigned code from being run.

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romeo May 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Apple is still a U.S own company.
But I totally get your point about the hidden spy stuff.
But we won't find out for another 10 years though.

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Marcos May 23, 2013 at 1:16 am
Marcos May 23, 2013 at 1:16 am
Nathan January 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

And so is every other phone, tablet, PC, TV, radio made in China. So what is your point. I guess they would never bug the droid?

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USS ENTERPRISE May 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

This is an excellent step forward. The iPhone and iPad are some of the most widely used technologies in the US. This new plan should add interoperability and efficiency to the military.

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blight_ May 21, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Like a press statement.

Don't forget, it increases agility of the future networked force and leverages commercial off the shelf hardware competencies!

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USS ENTERPRISE May 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Exactly.

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Uncle Bill May 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Another wide open door for the Chinese to choose from.

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Jesus May 23, 2013 at 8:56 am

The opening and invitation of the trojan horse x 1999999999999 x?

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Sev May 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Im sick of the thumbs down people get for warning of chinese espionage. As if the last decade of blatant theft of our technology hasn't been enough evidence that they will do anything and everything to steal from us. Imbeciles! Notice how many of our imported parts for military equipment are defective because they are made in china!

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blight_ May 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I'm guessing the warnings come from people who aren't fond of how the threat is caricatured in such an abstract level. Most people are aware of the threat of industrial espionage; especially Lockheed, after its subcontractors got scooped. Can't believe the sysadmin did not notice terabytes of rogue traffic. Perhaps a worker got spear-phished into revealing his password?

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brok3n May 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Sev,

This is the work of the "50 Cent Party" aka, paid Chinese government trolls.

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Doug B May 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I wonder how (if) they closed APPLE's backdoor?

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GroUpFolks May 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

Here we go again. Making technology an excuse for letting down our guard MORE than ever. We have "computerized" ourselves to death. We won't know how to take care of ourselves as individuals as well as a country unless it sings, beeps, and has an IT person connected.

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obas July 22, 2013 at 8:35 am

pls what os does the pentagon make use of, is it linux, windos 8 or 7 or mac

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ay webtech December 13, 2013 at 7:02 am

Here we go again. Creating technological innovation an reason for allowing down our secure MORE than ever. We have “computerized” ourselves to loss of life. We won’t know how to manage ourselves as people as well as a nation unless it performs, beeps, and has an IT individual linked.

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