NIST looks for secure ways to use iPads, iPhones in the enterprise

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is pilot testing Apple iPads and iPhones to determine how best to let employees use the devices in a secure environment.

NIST’s Office of Information Systems awarded the contract, valued at $43,757, to Videotape Products on July 22. The small-business award called for 55 Apple iPad 2s and 5 Apple iPhone 4Gs running on Verizon’s network.

“The purpose of the pilot is to determine how best to proceed to provide a managed, secure configuration for NIST users of these devices,” according to the original solicitation posted on

Federal, state and local organizations have been among the early adopters of the iPads. Among the agencies and organizations making use of Apple products are Utah, the Virginia legislature, and federal agencies such as the NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Army, the State Department, the Census Bureau and the General Services Administration.

However, while the Army wants mobile devices — whether iPhones or another type of device — to be standard issue, security concerns remain regarding commercial mobile devices.

Potential dangers from compromised smart phones include tracking soldiers’ movements and spying on meetings via the device’s cameras and microphones. These security concerns center on the government’s limited ability to control unmodified commercial wireless devices. Apple iPhones, which use proprietary software and hardware, cannot be easily modified.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Wed, Aug 3, 2011

NIST should also be looking at other mobile platforms like Android, especially being open source, current DoD interest, and ability to point to an Apps store of enterprise choice. Army Picks Android to Power Its First Smartphone Real Men Use Android: Special Forces Favor Google Phone

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 Kevin

Apple chooses to stay outside the enterprise and to reject integration with other products/vendors. That should drop their product from consideration for use on any secure network, regardless of the "cool" factor involved. As has always happened, others will catch up and do so with a less proprietary approach.

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