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Air Force Brass Get Secure Smartphones

General Dynamics will provide 300 new devices to leaders of the military service branch, part of a broader move across the Department of Defense to make classified data more portable.

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Air Force senior leaders at air staff and major command levels will soon be in the possession of 300 new secure smartphones courtesy of General Dynamics as part of a larger plan to integrate mobile devices into a consolidated enterprise network.

The military arm has purchased 300 rugged Sectera Edge devices from General Dynamics' C4 Systems unit for the National Security Agency's Secure Mobile Environment-Portable Electronic Devices (SME-PED), which allows for the dissemination of information from classified systems to secure mobile devices, according to the company. General Dynamics' devices were designed specifically for that program.

Providing personnel with secure devices has become a focus across the Department of Defense, which is exploring the use of commercial off-the-shelf devices such as iPhones and iPads that are in need of military-grade security.

The Army in particular has been an early adopter, and currently has going several smartphone pilots programs, including one to share intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data via handheld devices.

To secure those devices, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on encryption for iPhones and Android-based smartphones that will be designed for use across the military and other government agencies.

The Sectera Edge devices the Air Force is acquiring have their own security built in. The smartphones support the Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol (SCIP) and thus interoperable with the more than 350,000 devices that use it.

The devices also are certified to provide secure data communications that the military classifies as "secret" or less, as well as secure voice communications classified as "top secret" and less. Additionally, it is compliant with the High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Interoperability Specification (HAIPEIS) for interoperability with in-line encryption devices that secure information on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) the DOD and State Department use to transmit classified information, according to General Dynamics.

The devices are compatible with Wi-Fi, CDMA, and GSM networks.

General Dynamics said it has delivered thousands of Sectera Edge smartphones to government customers since 2007, including the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations within the Department of Defense.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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