May 28, 2013:
The U.S. Department of Defense recently approved Apple IOS (the operating system used on iPhones and iPads) for use on Department of Defense networks. Android (with the Knox security app) and the latest Blackberry were also approved. This means that all these devices can now send and receive data over the most secure (classified) Department of Defense networks. Until this approval was granted, these devices could be used offline and were not allowed to connect to Department of Defense networks because of doubts about security. Before this the only Department of Defense approved smart phone supplier was Blackberry. There are about a half a million of these approved Blackberry phones in use by the Department of Defense. They will not be replaced immediately with iPhones or Android phones. But now that all three software suppliers have addressed the Department of Defense security requirements the more popular iPhone and Android phones are expected to replace most Blackberry phones over the next few years.
This approval does not allow anyone to just start using their iPhone and Android phone on a Department of Defense network. Each new device must be approved. The Department of Defense has set up a new approval process that quickly checks out devices personnel want to use on the Department of Defense networks and either approves them or lets the user know what’s wrong. In the past this approval process could take months and was very unpopular. Now the decision will come much quicker.
The U.S. Army is still working on a battlefield cell phone network. This may end up being a special military version of wi-fi. This is taking so long because of the need for a robust (reliable under combat conditions) and secure (difficult to hack) system. This has not been easy, but progress has been made.