NSA okays Sect'ra Edge smart phone

Government users in classified positions can now buy mobile devices that offer secure access to government voice and data networks following the National Security Agency's certification of the Sect'ra Edge smart phone, manufactured by the C4 division of General Dynamics.

The federal government has been evaluating two secure voice and data devices for issue to classified personnel; with NSA certification, the Sect'ra Edge cleared the last step in the approval process needed to field the device.

The Sect'ra Edge costs $3,350 and begins shipping this month. Personnel must receive clearance from their supervisors to use the devices before ordering them from their information technology departments.

A second device, made by L3 Communications, is close to final approval.

The Sect'ra Edge is the result of NSA's Secure Mobile Environment/Portable Electronic Device program and incorporates the Secure Communication Interoperability Protocol and High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Interoperability Specification specifications for secure access to federal voice and data networks. The devices link to the Department of Defense's Public Key Infrastructure networks using a Common Access Card, and data stored on the devices is secured with data-at-rest encryption.

The Sect'ra Edge runs the Microsoft Windows operating system and includes Internet Explorer for Web browsing secure and non-secure Web applications. It also gives users access to several other Microsoft applications in secure and non-secure modes, including Windows Viewer to see images and Microsoft Office documents and the Personal Organizer for accessing contact and calendar data, as well as Wordpad for jotting notes, Windows Messenger for instant messaging and Windows Media Player.

NSA awarded development contracts for the devices worth $18 million to General Dynamics and L3 Communications in June 2005, followed in August 2007 by indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts to the two vendors valued at $300 million over a five-year period.

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