Pentagon Approves BlackBerry 10 And Samsung Knox Devices For US Military

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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US Department of Defense moves towards a mixed-device environment

The Pentagon has approved BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Playbook and Samsung Knox-enabled devices to be used on US Department of Defense (DoD) networks, after the platforms passed a security review process.

Mobile deployments at the DoD have traditionally been dominated by BlackBerry, but the Pentagon wants to be able to use the latest communications technology without being restricted to a single vendor, and is especially interested in Android devices.

As part of this process, iPhones and iPads running iOS 6 are expected to receive approval later this month, while the Pentagon is keen to get as many manufacturers as possible involved. All devices must go through testing approved by the Defense Information Systems Agency, whose security technical implementation guide (STIG) standards must be met.

Pentagon Mobile use

Samsung Galaxy S4 4The DoD said its approval didn’t necessarily mean there would be product orders, but would allow user groups within the department to choose the right platform for them. In March it denied reports it was scrapping BlackBerry and it was moving towards a mixed-device environment.

There are currently 600,000 mobile devices in use at the Pentagon, of which 470,000 are BlackBerry, 41,000 Apple and 8,700 Android-based. Most non-BlackBerry devices are deployed as part of pilot programs.

“This approval will enable DoD customers to connect their BlackBerry Z10 or BlackBerry Q10 smartphones to DoD networks and securely access assets from work, while enjoying the wealth of consumer-oriented functionality that BlackBerry 10 brings to market,” said Scott Totzke, senior vice president of BlackBerry Security.

An Android first

Samsung Knox was detailed at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona earlier this year and is enabled on the Samsung Galaxy S4. The company claims that the approval is a first for Android and that Knox will be included in all of its premium smartphones and tablets.

“We are very pleased to announce that the US Department of Defense has approved Samsung Knox-enabled devices for use in DoD networks,” said JK Shin, President and CEO of IT and mobile communications at Samsung. “This approval enables other government agencies and regulated industries such as health care and financial services to adopt Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

“This is a significant milestone for Samsung as we work to grow our relationships within government and large corporate enterprises.”

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