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DoD Proffers Plan for Secure Mobile Devices

Feb. 26, 2013 - 10:16AM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
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SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday released its plan for speeding departmentwide adoption of secure classified and unclassified mobile devices, mobile applications, and personal smartphones and tablet computers.

The plan provides a roadmap for carrying out DoD’s mobile strategy released in June. The goal is to establish wireless voice, video and data capabilities across DoD by October 2013.

“The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology by ensuring its workforce is empowered with mobile devices,” Teri Takai, DoD’s chief information officer, said in a news release.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will play a prominent role in implementing the plan, which calls for a 90-day approval cycle for mobile devices and operating systems used across the department, guidance for the use of personally owned mobile devices within DoD’s environment, and the creation of a program office within DISA by fiscal 2014 to oversee procurement and operation of a mobile device management capability and mobile services to DoD, Takai said in a Feb. 15 memo released Tuesday.

“The goal is an operating system that we can use on the unclassified and leverage onto the classified with security built into it,” John Hickey, program manager for DoD mobility at DISA, said at a press conference for the plan Tuesday morning. “The biggest difference between the unclassified and the classified is that you have a second layer of encryption.”

Hickey, who was joined by Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, DoD deputy chief information officer, said that the underlying emphasis is to create standards so that device makers will be able to develop systems that are more easily integrated into DoD networks.

“We’re device agnostic, so what we’re looking to have is a family of devices that are available,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler added that while implementation of the plan would affect device users on a wide variety of levels, because allies are not included, it is not designed to shape devices in combat.

“It would go from the high level policymaker to the tactical edge, but not beyond the tactical edge,” Wheeler said.

The plan details a host of deadlines and responsibilities for DISA and Takai, who will work jointly with other DoD information officers.

By the end of May, Takai must work with DISA to assess options for streamlining the security approval process of mobile devices and at some point develop guidance for allowing the use of personally owned devices.

Also by May, DISA must stand up a program office to provide guidance for secure classified and unclassified mobile communications. Under the plan, DoD will use standards set by the National Security Agency to secure classified devices, Takai said.

“This new architecture permits the use of commercial products for classified communications for the first time.”

Today, DoD has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in use and in a pilot test phase, including 470,000 Blackberrys, 41,000 Apple devices and 8,700 Android devices.

DoD’s component-level CIOs will be able to acquire mobile applications as a service provided by DISA or from the General Services Administration, pending GSA’s ability to provide such services that meet DoD standards.

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Zachary Fryer-Biggs contributed to this report.

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