updated 05:52 pm EST, Fri February 8, 2013
Modifications made to secure devices, prevent data theft
Government contractor and security firm CACI International has modified thousands of iPads so that they meet US government security requirements, according to CACI CEO Dan Allen. The Arlington, VA company secures the devices by physically altering the hardware, rather than through software modifications. Federal iPad users include President Barack Obama, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.
Allen said that the iPads commonly seen in publicity photos at the agencies and in the President's hands are "most likely a product that either came from us or came from someone we work with." The CEO added that the iPad's wireless connectivity and camera are the highest-risk features in a top secret environment. "It’s a neutered iPad," Allen told Bloomberg reporters. "We’re working on how do we effectively brand it."
MacNN has spoken with sources within the US government that say that both the front and rear-facing cameras have been completely removed from the device, and none of the devices -- unless prohibited outright from a top secret area -- have any 3G, LTE, or Wi-Fi connectivity. While the Bluetooth icon appears at the top of an iPad, there seems to be no way to connect the device to any peripherals or to another Bluetooth device for file transfer.
We were also told that the devices have "strict inventory requirements" and are capable of being completely disabled in what has been called a "destructive manner" after being removed from the secure facility. The iPads and other iOS devices have custom modifications depending on the security level of documents that it will be exposed to.
"Twenty years ago, we could tell when somebody had a hard drive shoved in their pants and put a stop to it," MacNN was told. "Now, you can fit an entire ship's log, propulsion plant history and information, and whatever else you can copy on a device no bigger than a fingernail clipper and get it out easy, if you want, if we don't stop it."