For all the amazing technology developed by and for American defense and intelligence agencies, the government's spooks are apparently lagging way behind in one key area: Smartphones. That means no mobile email or Angry Birds for our nation's spy corps. One NSA agent is trying to change that.
At a security conference in Florida, Reuters got some details on a top-secret smartphone project at the National Security Agency. Project leader Troy Lange is developing special software that turns an everyday, commercially available smartphone into a tool with top secret access. And he wants every employee in the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to have one.
"Think of the capabilities that would be in the hands of the warfighter when every one of them has a mobile device with which they could communicate back to their general," he said.
Despite its abilities to safeguard American computer networks and eavesdrop on electronic communications, the NSA is still in the dark ages of communication — every email, calendar invite or document has to be accessed through a hard-wired desktop computer, not even a laptop approved for use in its secretive buildings. And you can forget about cell phones.
Phones are very easy to hack, which has prompted government officials and some private business types to leave their gadgets off — or back at home — when traveling to certain countries. This is increasingly common in China, the Washington Post reported this week. Even in this country, you can never be too careful, at least if you're an intelligence operative.
The government does have its own suite of secure mobile phones that connect to something called the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, but they're not exactly sneaky, with bulky builds and limited capabilities. Apparently generals hate them, and have been known to switch to their personal cellphones to have classified conversations, Reuters reports. So it would obviously be better to give them modern smartphones with some souped-up capabilities. Lange's pilot project is supposed to start later this year.
He even envisions a classified app store someday, Reuters says. Who knows what kinds of spy games it will offer.
Careful. Apple might try to sue you for using their design. But seriously. Anything that keeps military behind consumers in technology is a good thing.
Or, you could just use a Blackberry. Those things are secure enough that the Saudi's won't sell them because RIM said that no one knows the encryption key, so no one can wiretap. I'm sure there are ways to hack in, but FAR more secure than your iPhone.
ya, because something that a soldiars life depends on should be less secure and less up to date than technology the mass public, sometimes even people who are unemployment.
mass public/people who are unemployement has/have access too*
As someone that has actually been inside the National Security Agency, the issue with certain tech being "outdated" isn't simply because this area is lagging behind the rest, it's because to be properly secure, you have to be able to control the whole enviroment. In the case of viewing classified media, you have to have 100% security. Viewing classified media on your phone, you cannot properly ensure no over the shoulder viewing. Nor can you ensure 100% document security. This is why documents are not allowed to be viewed on removable media like a laptop. Even the physical papers that are printed have to be carried by a specially licensed document carrier if they need to be transferred outside of the same level SCIF's. IE if the Document is Top Secret, the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) has to be rated at Top Secret. If the document has to pass though a SCIF that is only rated to Secret, it has to be protected, secured and transported to another Top Secret rated SCIF by a carrier that is both cleared to Top Secret AND is trained and cleared as a secure document carrier.
Allowing any mobile phone, be that Blackberry or otherwise to obtain classified media at any level puts that media at risk. The information has to be wirelessly transferred across non-secure lines. Now, if the Military is going to start putting up it's own cell towers and cell satellites then that's one thing.
But this has bad idea written all over it!!!
Look at the information that WikiLeaks has obtained, I can only shudder to think what will happen when more secure information gets streamed around the globe.
And is the US going to start making their own phones? There was a big thing about china putting tracking software/coding into everyday thumb/jump drives... and where do most phones get manufactured? yeah... I'm not on board with this idea.. I sure hope someone else that's still in the loop puts the proper questions on the board when this type of device is discussed.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
It was Top Secret. Now everyone knows about it so it's just a moderatly secure smartphone.
they should have angry birds, they might get bored, or just to relieve some stress for a few minutes
The Gee-Wiz common technology is cool but it is problematic as you take these things onto a military base trying to keep secrets. A common cell phone with camera is a great spy tool for the bad guys with internet access to send of those pictures of documents as fast as you can hit send. Still military personal should have the ability to keep in touch with loved ones.
put a 128 bit encryption on it and use a multi level frequency for a single send (IE changes frequency during call) then decrypt and have the encryption be a randomly changing wordmix
As @rjpotts said, it would have been better for the government to not talk about it if they wanted it to remain "top secret" and "secure." Also, the problem with a top-secret and secure smartphone is the fact that it's just that: a computer. And all computers can be hacked. There is no way around that.
"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible."