The Department of Defense (DOD) has approved the use of Apple iOS 6 devices on its networks.
Approval of the Apple iOS 6 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) is the next element in what a Pentagon press release described as “building a multi-vendor environment” that supports “a diverse selection of devices and operating systems.” The Department recently approved STIGs for BlackBerry 10 and Samsung Knox, the latter an Android-based security solution; without a STIG, a mobile device simply isn’t allowed to connect to DOD networks.
“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 & Program Executive Officer for Mission Assurance and Network Ops, wrote in a statement. “[Defense Information Systems Agency] is running a pilot program today where we bring this all together.”
According to its own estimates, the Department of Defense has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices “in operational and pilot use.” The majority of those devices are from BlackBerry (470,000 units), with Apple’s iOS coming in a distant second (41,000 units) and Google Android in third (8,700 units). Unlike many corporations, the Department of Defense does not believe in Bring Your Own Device policies when it comes to connecting smartphones and tablets to networks.
The preponderance of BlackBerry devices within the DOD hints at BlackBerry’s continuing influence within government institutions, as well as its longstanding reputation for offering some of the best mobile security on the market. On the broader market, however, BlackBerry has watched its market-share decline over the past few years, driven down by the rise of Apple’s iOS and Google Android. BlackBerry is attempting a major comeback with BlackBerry 10, its new operating system, paired to a variety of high-end and mid-tier devices.
But with the entrance of Apple iPhones and Google Android devices into the highest levels of government and business, BlackBerry’s quest for renewed dominance is that much more difficult. It will be interesting to see whether the number of BlackBerry devices in use by the DOD will decline with the acceptance of iOS and Android, or if longtime habits will help BlackBerry preserve that particular market.