CNN has reported that the U.S government is working on a build of Android designed o meet their security requirements.
They note that U.S. officials and soldiers are not currently permitted to send any classified information over their smartphones. If they need to transmit classified information they currently need to find a secured (generally meaning hardwired) line hooked to an approved device.
The secure Smartphone will mean that limited number of soldiers will get the phones first, then federal agencies, then possibly contractors. The U.S. government is not building their own hardware due to the high costs. They will be buying commercially available devices and reflashing them.
They hoped to be able to offer iOS devices, but it’s not going to happen. CNN notes that federal officials met with Apple to request that they share their source code but Apple did not agree to sharing their source.
The phones won’t be totally locked down as users will be able to install new applications, though the handsets will put a specific emphasis on exactly what information the application can access and what it’s currently sending.
The project is being funded by DARPA, with the NSA evaluating it, while working on a version of their own. As DARPA also initially funded Apple’s Siri, so hope whatever the security improvements are made eventually make it to the commercial market.
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