In a strange turn of events, the Pentagon has authorised BlackBerry (whose security was possibly questioned by the UK government) and Android-based manufacturer Samsung’s devices for use in the Department of Defense; but left Apple’s iPhone in question.
General consensus pits Android as being the most insecure mobile OS with many high-profile cases of Malware whilst rival iOS is usually seen as being more secure as a result of Apple’s tighter platform restrictions.
BlackBerry has a long-history of being very secure and widely used within enterprises to prevent unauthorised data loss; according to DoD spokesman Lt Col Damien Pickart – the U.S military itself uses 470,000 of the manufacturers’ devices (out of 600,000 smartphones in circulation) as a result.
So why trust an Android device? It appears only “a secure version of Android” known as Samsung Knox is authorised for use.
The benefit of an Open-Source OS such as Android means the Pentagon may have a custom-made version which could feature user-based restrictions alongside software with high-grade encryption.
But the real question is; why not authorise Apple devices? No reason has been, or will be released for this. At a guess it could be the amount of exploits found to bypass the software to “jailbreak” or display user contacts and photos without permission.
No true security software can be installed on iOS devices; Apple relies on its own updates and lack of access to the system to (attempt to) make the OS “impenetrable” by outside forces.
We all like to feel more connected to friends, family, and colleagues; this approval process is the first-step in an initiative to get more devices available to personnel for enabling this contact.
Needless to say the Pentagon needs to know this contact is secure. Clearing Samsung and BlackBerry is a big-win of trust by consumers for the companies; Apple however has taken an indirect hit.
It’s not the end for Apple and the Pentagon, testing by the Defense Information Systems Agency will continue, and iOS devices may be cleared by the end of May.
Do you think Android and BlackBerry are secure enough for use by the Pentagon and military personnel? Is iOS really as secure as people believe?
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