US Defense Department approves Apple's iOS devices for its networks

Devices from BlackBerry and Samsung Electronics were earlier also cleared by the department

Devices built around Apple's iOS operating system have been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for use on its networks, as the department moves to support multivendor mobile devices and operating systems.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which certifies commercial technology for defense use, said Friday it had approved the Apple iOS 6 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG).

"Approval of the STIG means that government-issued iOS 6 mobile devices are approved for use when connecting to DOD networks within current mobility pilots or the future mobile device management framework," the agency said in a statement.

The department earlier this month cleared BlackBerry 10 smartphones and PlayBook tablets with its enterprise mobility management platform BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to be used on its networks. It also approved Samsung Electronics' Knox, a new Android-based platform designed by the company to enhance security of the current open source Android.

The DOD mobility strategy includes mobile devices configured to the STIG, in combination with an actively managed and defended Mobility Device Management system, DISA said. The agency is responsible for establishing MDM, which provides a process for managing and distributing mobile applications and an enhanced cyberdefense infrastructure. DISA is running a pilot program to bring all the pieces together.

A DOD spokesman, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, said earlier that a decision on Apple's iOS was expected to be taken last week. Several mobile devices and operating systems are currently going through DISA's STIG review and approval process, Pickart said via email earlier this month.

"We look forward to additional vendors also participating in this process, further enabling a diversity of mobile devices for use within the department," Pickart said. The approvals do not result in product orders, he added. Actual orders will be linked to operational requirements and availability of funding with user organizations, DISA said in its statement.

DOD currently has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operational and pilot use, including about 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 running Apple operating systems and 8,700 on Android. A Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan aims to permit use of the latest commercial technologies such as smart phones and tablets, and to develop an enterprise mobile device management capability and application store to support approximately 100,000 multivendor devices by February 2014, DISA said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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Tags BlackBerry OSapplicationstelecommunicationiosregulationgovernmentDepartment of DefensemobileBlackberryAndroid OSAppleDefense Information Systems AgencyMobile OSesSamsung Electronics

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