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Samsung, BlackBerry gain Pentagon security clearance, Apple still waiting

The Pentagon's push toward a platform-agnostic Department of Defense moved forward today, as BlackBerry 10 devices and a number of Samsung's Galaxy handsets were approved for DoD use, even as Apple's iOS devices still await approval.

The Pentagon on Thursday cleared BlackBerry 10 and Samsung Knox-compatible devices for use on DoD networks, Reuters reported, while Apple's iPhones and iPads are expected to see approval later in May. Expanding the range of devices available beyond the DoD's previous BlackBerry standard will allow units within the department to tailor their technology orders to fit their own needs.

"We are pleased to add BlackBerry 1- and the Samsung Knox version of Android to our family of mobile devices supporting the Department of Defense," Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Reuters. "We look forward to additional vendors also participating in this process."

Thursday's announcement wasn't entirely unexpected, as the DoD has been saying for months that it was preparing to open its networks to iOS and certain Android devices. Recent reports moved the timing up on that decision from late-2013 to the first half of the year.

What is surprising, though, is that BlackBerry 10 devices have received approval prior to Apple's iOS devices. Most previous reports had iOS much further along in the Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) review process, which all devices must go through prior to approval.

Apple devices have already been used in some areas of the government, but Pentagon certification will allow for their use in more secure areas. When clearance does arrive for iOS devices, it's expected that it will cover devices running iOS 6, while those running iOS 5 may require hardware modifications in order to achieve clearance.