BlackBerry Samsung Knox

DOD OKs BlackBerry, Android devices, expanding its mobile options

After putting out its Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan earlier this year, the Defense Department of has been working to make it possible to safely add devices from various manufacturers to its networks.

One of the first steps in getting any new device approved is for the Defense Information Systems Agency to test it and put out a Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG)  for it. This essentially is the step-by-step guide that a network administrator follows in order to properly set up and maintain that device for use on a DOD network. Without this guide, a device cannot be approved for use. 

Recently DOD announced approval of the STIGs for BlackBerry 10 smart phones (including the Z10) and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. In the same announcement DOD also cited approval of the STIG for Samsung’s Android Knox. DISA also has STIGs for some iOS and other Android devices.

“This is a significant step towards establishing a multivendor environment that supports a variety of state-of-the-art devices and operating systems,” Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman, said in announcing the approval. While this announcement in of itself doesn’t directly mean new purchase orders, it means DOD will have more flexibility when it comes time to buy. According to Federal News Radio, the Pentagon plans to roll out up to 100,000 new secure mobile devices by the end of 2014, and with these STIG approvals those devices can be a part of that.

Having a consistent managed framework of approved devices can only end up saving DOD money in the long run, which is important, especially at this time. "All the front-end investment, all the networking, all the mobile device management, within about a year and a quarter, it will pay for itself," said Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, DOD's deputy CIO for command, control, communications and computers. "We're talking about purely cutting down on the costs that we have today with our fragmented methodology. From a taxpayer perspective it's a good approach, but from the perspective of jumping the productivity curve, it's an even better approach. We don't even know how far we can go with this, and I think that's the exciting part of it."

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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