WASHINGTON – The Pentagon this week approved a key security document that allows a version of Android to access Defense Department computer networks – but don’t rush to hook up your personal smartphone to work email just yet.
The Security Technical Implementation Guide, or STIG, put out by the Pentagon on Wednesday covers only Dell’s version of Android 2.2, which runs only on Dell devices. And there’s another caveat: Dell recently canceled its Streak series of tablet computers that ran on Android 2.2 and now sells only one Android 2.2 device, the Venue smartphone.
That means your phones by Motorola, Samsung, HTC and others aren’t covered by the STIG. And for security reasons, any DOD employees issued Android work phones won’t be able to access the Android Market to purchase apps like they would with personal phones.
There are other limitations as well. Classified information can’t pass through the phones, and web browsing must be done through a DOD proxy server to provide an extra layer of security between the device and the dangers of the open internet.
Still, it’s the first time a popular smartphone operating system other than BlackBerry has been approved for DOD use. Android, developed by Google, is the dominant smartphone operating system in the United States, with data last month showing it had taken over 50 percent of the market.
Apple’s iOS operating system, meanwhile, has just under one-third of the smartphone market. Android runs on numerous makers’ devices, while iOS only runs in iPhones and other Apple devices, including the market-leading iPad tablet computers.
Currently, iOS is only approved for testing and pilot projects in DOD, and not enterprise use. The Defense Information Systems Agency, responsible for overseeing safe use of devices on DOD networks, has not said when iOS might be approved for broad use.