iPhone to Challenge Blackberry After DoD Grants it Security Clearance

Mike O'Brien

Let the battle commence. Weeks after the latest Blackberry and Samsung were given security clearance, Apple’s iPhones and iPads have been given the nod by the Pentagon.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on Friday that Apple's iOS 6 mobile operating system is safe enough to connect to secure Pentagon networks.

The clearance comes after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which examines and tests mobile devices and technologies for security clearance, granted the Apple software FIPS 140-2 certification (Level 1).

That means iPhones and iPads can run the software in conjunction with the U.S. government's lowest level of national security clearance, zdnet.com reports.

Until now, the Defense Department has been strictly Blackberry territory with about 470,000 devices in use. Blackberry has had U.S. government certification for several years.

Now 41,000 Apple products and 8,700 devices running the Android operating system are in the department’s hands. With the clearance, they can now be connected to secure military networks.

Last month Samsung was cleared by the Pentagon for any device protected by the Knox security software, which includes the Galaxy S4 and other compatible tablets.

With Apple in the frame, there will be considerable competition for device procurement in the mobile space.

That competition may mirror what’s happened in the civilian world, where Blackberry’s popularity has declined and its market share dwindled as Apple marched relentlessly to dominance.

The DoD also said on Friday that it was fortifying its cloud, acquisition and data processes.

Mark Krzysko, the DoD's deputy director for acquisition resource analysis and enterprise information, described cloud computing as one of many new ways to provide "decision-makers timely access to accurate, authoritative and reliable information."

He said that the major challenge faced by the Pentagon is, firstly, how can the Department make existing technologies and cloud information work together and, secondly, how to "orchestrate the transition" from a desktop environment to a mobile one while preserving data security.

The latest advancements in the mobile space will be discussed at IDGA’s 2nd Annual Enterprise Mobility for Defense & Government event later this year. For more details, go to www.enterprisemobilityevent.com