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US DoD to allow Apple, Samsung devices on Pentagon network next week

updated 01:20 am EDT, Sat May 11, 2013

BlackBerry likely to suffer due to loss of monopoly on secure devices

A spokesperson for the Pentagon has told Bloomberg that mobile devices using Apple's iOS 6 as well as Samsung devices supplemented with the company's Knox security lockdown as well as BlackBerry devices running BB10 are expected to be allowed onto the Defense Department's high-security data networks early next week, barring final approvals. The news comes on the heels of iOS's FIPS 140-2 certification for the CoreCrypto kernel module, which was added in the iOS 6 release.

The move changes the culture of mobile device acquisition at the DoD, which had previously been heavily skewed towards BlackBerry. The change is expected to hurt the Canadian-based company as more divisions opt for other choices, including Apple and Samsung devices. MacNN reported in March that the Pentagon planned to acquire as many as 650,000 iOS devices for military deployment in various capacities as soon as testing was complete and the government sequestration of some DoD programs was over.

That said, the DoD does not plan to completely replace BlackBerry devices with iOS ones, and will also consider Android-based devices -- though the latter is limited to certain Samsung models with the Knox security features integrated, as "vanilla" Android does not meet security requirements "out-of-the-box" in the same way iOS and BB10 do. The Pentagon must still implement its own mobile-device management and administration IT infrastructure for the various levels of security required, which may take some time.

A breakdown of the iOS purchases planned by the DoD and obtained by MacNN would see 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis, 200,000 iPod touches and 210,000 iPhones of various models being purchased with "more than half" being deployed to battle theatres, on board active-duty vessels and associated support commands," while the remainder will be used by Pentagon employees and contractors. Most of the iOS (and presumably Knox-enabled Samsung and BB10 devices) will be used to replace 470,000 aging BlackBerry devices that are not compatible with the BB10 operating system, though the purchases will be delayed by the current sequestration.

By Electronista Staff
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