Devices from the world's two largest smartphone makers will soon be cleared for use by Department of Defense employees, as the Pentagon makes ready to open up its systems to Apple's iPhone and handsets from Samsung.
The coming weeks will see the Department of Defense granting separate security approvals for Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and Apple iPads and iPhones, sources familiar with the Pentagon's plans told The Wall Street Journal. The policy shift will be the culmination of a plan announced earlier this year to move the DoD into a more "platform agnostic" IT position.
Specifically, the DoD will reportedly grant clearance for both iOS 6, Apple's current mobile operating system, as well as iOS 5, the company's previous-generation software. iOS 5 will be cleared for use on an "as needed" basis subject to hardware modification, while any device running iOS will be acceptable, without the need for hardware modification.
Approval for DoD use requires that a manufacturer's devices pass stringent security examinations. Apple prides itself on security in iOS, with its iMessage encryption reportedly strong enough to stymie the DEA.
Apple's iPads and iPhones are already in use in a number of government agencies, as well as some divisions of the military, but Pentagon certification will allow for their use in more critical security areas.
Samsung, meanwhile, has been rapidly adding security layers to its Galaxy line of devices to make them suitable for enterprise and government use. The South Korean tech giant is also said to be readying a more "rugged" version of its Galaxy S4 handset. Initially thought to be geared toward more active users, the waterproof and dust proof Galaxy S4 "Active" would also be attractive to officials in hardship postings and soldiers on the battlefield.
While previous reports have colored the widening of the range of acceptable devices as an undeniable negative for BlackBerry â currently the standard holder among secure devices for large operations â AppleInsider's own contact with Pentagon spokespersons has shown the shift to be intended to widen the Pentagon's options.
"The key takeaway is that it's a multi-vendor solution," Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told AppleInsider in February. "We will have a DoD-wide device management system and a DoD-wide app storefront."
This multi-vendor model is intended to allow specific departments to tailor their device and app requisition needs to their own requirements, as opposed to going with a one-size-fits-all model. BlackBerry is said to be close to securing Defense Department approval for its new OS, BlackBerry 10.