The Defense Department wants soldiers, sailors and Marines to use the smartphone device in their pocket today to access the military’s networks.
The Pentagon is starting small with the Go Mobile app that gives civilian and military personnel access to the services provided under the Defense Knowledge Online (DKO) portal.
Lt. Col. Anmy Torres, the director of the Secure Go Mobile Services for DoD and the director of DKO, said 2.3 million users currently can access email, tasks, calendars and contacts online through a desktop computer or through a device running Windows mobile 6.1.
Torres said DoD now is close to approving a security technical implementation guide (STIG) for the operating system running on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iTouch systems for run the Go Mobile app.
Torres said senior officials could approve the technical guidance in April.
“The STIG does not certify the iPhone and iPad to do other things,” she said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “The STIG identifies the security parameters for how the operating system can work with the app. In DoD, certain security things need to happen and the STIG identifies them. One of them is for the Go Mobile app to work on the iPhone and iPad, certain things need to be disabled like you can’t make a call or you cannot open any other app.”
“Our goal is to provide iPad, iPhone users the capability to access secure websites like the Air Force portal or any portal behind the Common Access Card lock down,” she said.
To that end, DoD also has begun developing the STIG for the Android OS. Torres said that standard is not as far along as the one for the Apple, but the draft could be ready for review by May or June.
“The Army is looking at equipping a solider with equipment they know how to use,” she said. “The Army is encouraging soldiers to develop things to help themselves using the platforms they have and in a secure way. People want to develop apps. We saw that in March 2010 when Army did contest, Apps for Army.”
Each service and DoD agency still will have to approve the STIG for use on its own network, but having a basic standard approved is a big head start, she said.
Torres said DoD’s online marketplace already has 40 apps and 50 widgets.
“We are working with DISA and the DoD CIO to get that marketplace solidified,” she said. “We are not where we need to be and we don’t have a clear certification path, but lots of people are working to stand up something DoD can use.”
Torres said a standard process across DoD to certify and accredit an app to run on any military network would go a long way toward expanding the use and development of apps.
“We are identifying the basic requirements to set up a secure container for applications and data on a smartphone,” Torres said. “It’s something we need to provide DoD users as part of a complete package. We can say ‘here is a secure container where you can work on applications and download them.’ We hope to have an environment in place by end of the year.”
She said DoD also hopes to have an approved Bluetooth reader for the Common Access Card to access the Go Mobile app for the iPhone and Android phones.
DISA is close to giving final approval for a Bluetooth reader for Android and iPhone. The hardware passed a third party tester recently before being sent to DISA, Torres said.