Apple iOS 6 Platform Cleared for Use at Department of Defense

The agency said the approval of Apple iOS 6 is a major stride in building a multivendor environment.

Apple's mobile devices are now cleared for use on U.S. military networks, although this move does not clear the way for personal device use in the military.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for the United States government's Department of Defense announced approval of the Apple iOS 6 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG), opening the door for DoD use of Apple devices.

The DoD mobility strategy now includes mobile devices configured to the STIG, in combination with an actively managed and defended Mobility Device Management (MDM) system, which is in source selection now, and anticipated for award in early summer. The DISA, which provides IT and communications support to the U.S. government and military, is responsible for establishment of the MDM system.

The DoD currently has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operational and pilot use, including approximately 470,000 BlackBerry, 41,000 Apple and 8,700 Google Android devices.

The organization said the release of the iOS 6 STIG is a major stride in building a multivendor environment, supporting a diverse selection of devices and operating systems. This STIG and the recently approved STIGs for the BlackBerry and Samsung Knox operating systems offer insight into the DISA's attempt to validate a range of devices that meet DoD security standards so the best technology is available to achieve DoD mission requirements.

However, the release noted that actual orders will be tied to identification of specific operational requirements and funding availability of using organizations, and it doesn't mean the government is adopting any sort of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy—the STIG does not allow personally acquired mobile devices to connect to DoD networks.

A key objective of the organization's Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan (CMDIP) is to establish a departmentwide mobile enterprise solution that permits the use of cutting-edge commercial technology such as smartphones and tablets, and the development of an enterprise mobile device management capability and application store to support approximately 100,000 multivendor devices by February 2014.

"All of these pieces must be in place to allow the secure use of commercial mobile devices on department networks," Mark Orndorff, DISA information assurance executive and program executive officer for mission assurance and network ops, said in a statement. "DISA is running a pilot program today where we bring this all together."

The May 2 release of DISA's Samsung Knox STIG provisionally allows the DoD to use the technology as soon as it is available commercially. STIGs for the currently available BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry Device Service were also recently issued.

The cornerstone leading to this new process and the basis for establishing the list of approved mobile devices to operate within the enterprise is the DoD CMDIP, which was released in February. In the plan, DISA was tasked to develop a new process for approving mobile devices "to ensure that DoD will have access to the latest mobile technologies in a timely manner by maximizing vendor participation."