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Defense Department set to approve Apple iOS and Samsung Galaxy devices for secure use

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Army iPhone app (Credit: US Army Flickr)
Army iPhone app (Credit: US Army Flickr)

The US Department of Defense is set to approve both Apple iOS devices and the Samsung Galaxy smartphone line for secure use by its more than three million total employees within a few weeks, The Wall Street Journal reports. Security approvals for Apple and Samsung would be a huge move for both companies, as presently, the BlackBerry line dominates the US defense sector, as The Journal notes. However, the report states that the security approvals are unlikely to result in any new mass purchases of iPhones, iPads, or Galaxy phones in the short term.

A Defense Department press officer previously told The Verge that the agency "currently has more than 600,000" commercial mobile devices "in operational and pilot use," specifically, 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 running iOS and 8,700 running Android. The spokesperson also said that the agency was aiming to approve BlackBerry 10 for secure enterprise use by the third quarter of 2013, which would put it behind iOS and Samsung's Galaxy devices running Android, if those do end up receiving approval in the frame The Journal reports.

BlackBerry line dominates the US defense sector

Only Samsung Galaxy phones that have Knox, the company's work and personal siloing software, are reported to be close to getting the security clearance for now. But Samsung, which has poured lots of money and time into wooing the Defense Department and other US government agencies, also is again said to be working on a ruggedized, tougher version of its new Galaxy S4 phone, nicknamed the Galaxy S4 "Active." As for Apple, it's unclear what, if any, security modifications the company is making to iOS to earn the clearance for its iOS devices.

The Defense Department has been publicly pursuing the idea of getting more commercial smartphones among its ranks for years, releasing a "mobile device strategy" document in the summer of 2012, in which it noted that already, "commercial mobile devices make up a majority of the products being piloted and employed" by its members, though not securely. Just yesterday, the Defense Department noted that it aimed to have 100,000 mobile devices approved for access to "unclassified" agency networks, and that it was in the process of conducting 70 pilot programs for secure wireless data access by its employees. "Right now, our process is 9 to 12 months to approve a phone," said Air Force Major General Robert E. Wheeler in a Defense Department news release, adding he thought that was took long.