DoD announces new mobile strategy

Friday - 6/15/2012, 7:15pm EDT

Defense Department leaders released a mobile device strategy Friday aimed at harnessing the full potential of the latest wireless technology while protecting government secrets.

The plan tries to improve three areas defense leaders consider crucial to mobility: wireless infrastructure, the devices themselves, and mobile applications.

"The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology to improve information sharing, collaboration and efficiencies," said Teri Takai, the department's chief information officer. "As today's DoD personnel become increasingly mobile, a wide variety of devices offers unprecedented opportunities to advance the operational effectiveness of the DoD workforce. This strategy will allow mobile activities across the department to converge towards a common vision and approach."

Infrastructure

Defense leaders hope the mobility roadmap will enhance the department's wireless infrastructure to allow for seamless, secure information sharing by voice, video and data feeds.

"DoD's evolving enterprise infrastructure and wireless networks need to support unclassified and classified high-bandwidth traffic, mission-critical wireless coverage to in-building and terrestrial environments, and various networking architectures," according to the strategy, which is dated May 2012. "... This evolution must leverage industry infrastructure, emerging technologies and commercial-off-the-shelf products in accordance with policy and standards.""

In the effort to secure the wireless infrastructure, leaders are planning to establish a mobile device security architecture.

"The architecture must enable the management of mobile devices, applications and network connections to secure the interfaces between DoD networks and commercial networks," the strategy states. "Additionally, it must employ DoD Public Key Infrastructure security, access and identification controls at the network, device and application levels."

Mobile device policies

A second goal in the strategy addresses the mobile devices themselves. DoD plans to establish policies and "standards to support secure mobile device usage, device-to-device interoperability and consistent device lifecycle management," according to the strategy.

The Pentagon manages more than 250,000 commercial mobile devices using different operating systems, according to DoD figures.

"The Mobile Device Strategy is intended to align the progress of these various mobile devices, pilots and initiatives across DoD under common objectives to ensure the warfighter benefits from these activities and aligns with efforts in the Joint Information Environment," the department said in a press release.

Web and mobile apps

The strategy's third goal aims to spur the development of apps for mobile devices. It also "establishes policy, processes and mechanisms for appropriately web-enabling critical DoD IT systems and functions for mobile devices," the strategy states.

In this spirit, leaders hope to create a common framework with tools for developers to build and test their apps. The strategy also includes plans to certify that apps are secure before they access defense networks and systems.

"DoD certification denotes compliance with enterprise networthiness requirements to include security requirements for deployment on DoD networks," according to the document. "It confirms the secure signing of apps, which ensures that malware and viruses were not embedded in the app after signature, and provides acceptable assurance that apps are free from exploitable vulnerabilities."

Defense leaders released their mobile strategy less than one month after the Office of Management and Budget announced a governmentwide plan. But departmentwide implementation of the DoD strategy is still yet to come. Initially, Pentagon officials will roll out small-scale test projects to determine whether any revisions are necessary, and even whether the strategy can be applied across the entire defense enterprise.

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