Pentagon Replacing BlackBerry Standard with iOS, Android

The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that the United States Department of Defense will allow today’s leading mobile devices and their operating systems to share classified information. The goal is to enure that these devices can operate securely in “often hostile and remote environments” and can adapt to ever-changing technology.

“More than 600,000 DOD employees, from soldiers on the front lines to Joint Staff planners, use government-issued mobile devices, mostly BlackBerry phones,” writes Nick Simeone of the American Forces Press Service. “Several thousand of the mobile devices in use in DOD are capable of handling classified data.”

As part of the effort, the Pentagon will migrate from a BlackBerry standard toward iOS and Android by October of this year.

“The commercial mobile device market is moving so quickly, we can’t wait,” Teri Takai, DOD’s chief information officer, said. “If we don’t get something in place, we will have multiple solutions, just because the demand out there to be able to use these devices is so strong.”

Officials are planning for a phased implementation involving vendor competition for development of a system that Takai suggests, given DOD’s 3 million plus employees, could prove to be a model for large companies that also need to protect the transmission of both open and confidential data.

“The challenge for DOD is to balance the concern of cybersecurity with the need to have the capability of these devices,” Takai says.