In a September conference on surveillance, Dr. John Levine of the NSA spoke on the government’s evolving integration of new technology. “The president is getting his daily intelligence briefing on an iPad,” he said. “Now, that iPad is neutered–it has no connectivity. It gets plugged into a docking station. We can do that for the president, but we can’t scale that. So the question is, can we use commercial products that are secure?”
The NSA tried building their own, secure mobile device called Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device or MEPED. It took them four years to build, by which time no intelligence official wanted to carry around an outdated, inevitably ugly piece of technology.
Today, U.S. government is trying a different tack. CACI International Inc, a federal IT contractor, has “neutered” thousands of iPads for use by government officials. Instead of providing shielding software, CACI alters the consumer machines’ hardware. In a meeting with Bloomberg Government reporters, CACI CEO Dan Allen said that the iPad’s wireless connectivity and camera are among the riskiest features in a top-secret environment, but he didn’t give details on how exactly CACI provides counteractive measures.
Though the details on CACI’s security measures are unclear, it is evident the government will develop its cybersecurity in conjunction with consumer technology, hopefully evolving staid systems. In October, the Defense Department announced plans to open its network to iPhones and Android devices. We will be watching closely.
Image via ABC News