The Department of Defense (DoD) recently provided fresh insight on how it plans to use commercial tools to bring secure mobile technologies into the hands of staff and soldiers stationed around the world. In an official Request For Proposals, officials confirmed the qualities they will look for in a mobile device management system and mobile application store capable of immediately supporting more than 160,000 smartphones and tablets.
"The mobile device management (MDM) capability should provide the application and user level 'traffic cop,' to enforce policy for network and end devices," the procurement summary stated. "The MDM institutes the policy, security and permissions that define the functions the user is enabled to conduct on the mobile device."
This centralized approach ensures that DoD environments will not be compromised by the errant behavior of one misconfigured device. Additionally, remote monitoring capabilities would streamline malware detection and resolution efforts while providing administrators with the authority to wipe agency assets from compromised smartphones and tablets.
DoD officials are searching for an MDM solution that can also integrate smoothly with a mobile application store to regulate permission rights and deliver over-the-air updates. These remote capabilities will ensure device owners have access to the latest security provisions – whether they are operating in Washington or on the battlefield.
The fact that the DoD is calling for a device-agnostic solution is also news in and of itself. According to the Washington Post, the proposal provides the first indication that the federal agency will open up all of its networks to iOS and Android devices for the first time. The procurement document specifically called for support of iOS 5 and above and Android 2.2 and above – with the capability to handle new versions within three months of their release. However, MDM support for BlackBerry and Windows-based devices was classified as non-essential for submission approval.
This news deals yet another blow to beleaguered Research In Motion, according to the Post, as it could signal the beginning of the end for the BlackBerry brand's traditional federal foothold. As the Pentagon pushes for a more mobile future, it has had little choice but to embrace the innovations on offer from Apple and Google.
"At the end of the day, we really are going to become hardware agnostic," Army CIO Susan Lawrence explained at a recent security summit, according to Foreign Policy. "Whatever device you feel most comfortable with to do command and control, to be mobile with, is the device that you'll have and that's the one that we'll work with."
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