John Oltsik of NetworkWorld recently participated in a mobile security event in Washington, DC. One of the presenters was the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), part of the US Department of Defense, who described how modern soldiers are using mobile phones connecting to an app called Go Mobile to access numerous communications, training, and collaboration programs.
It should come as no surprise that the DoD requires rather stringent security access for these mobile users. Up to this point, the program has utilized mostly Blackberries, but is now looking to expand to iPhones and Android handsets due to high demand from users.
The roadblock? Neither Apple nor Google would give the DoD access to their OS's security API's, resulting in a variety of kludgy workarounds. According to Oltsik, "One person I spoke with from DOD said that Apple flat out refused to play ball, telling DOD to 'talk to our integrators and carriers.'" (This is doubly ironic, since — as we reported mere days ago — Apple themselves had quietly disabled a key security API in iOS…)
While Oltsik views Apple's and Google's policies as "myopic and selfish," others side with the private sector vs. the gummint. MacNews Daily's take on the issue flatly stated "Jon, if you haven't noticed, the U.S. government leaks like a sieve. Tool on over to WikiLeaks for proof. Apple is protecting the security of iOS; giving the U.S. government access is akin to publishing it on the Web for all to see. Providing API access to the U.S. DOD would be the foolish and irresponsible thing to do."