Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

Summary: ZDNet Government's David Gewirtz takes a deep dive into military and government Android security with Dell's top Android security expert.

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A few weeks ago, I published an article entitled Making Android secure enough for secure government work.

In it, I recounted some scary stories about government smartphone usage, and then explored some (very smart) work being done to make Android-based smartphones secure enough for government work.

The nice folks at Dell, who are working on this project, reached out to me and I had the opportunity to sit down with Neal Foster, Dell's Executive Director of Mobility Solutions Development for a deep dive into Android security, government smartphone usage, and some insider secrets about how to harden Android for military use.

Here's that discussion. It's absolutely fascinating. Before you watch it, I'd like to send a shout-out of thanks to both Neal and his associate Scott Radcliffe, who were both incredibly helpful, patient, and tolerant as we got the bugs worked out of our second-ever Skype Studio interview.

And now, here's Neal and Android security.

Topics: Government US, Dell, Government, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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27 comments
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  • No!

    For starters, it's open source. Hackers already have the source code.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

      @Tim Acheson And now you're going to tell us that Windows and OSX are more secure because we don't have the source? That's a very bass ackwards viewpoint... with the source being open and under constant scrutiny, that makes it far more secure than the opposite. If I want lockdown, give me Linux first.
      beidsvold
      • Are you joking? Linux has way more security vulnerabilities than windows.

        Although less than osx. It's the same order for mobile. WP is top, android a far distant second, ios a joke.
        Johnny Vegas
      • Johnny Vegas - Citation Needed

        .
        daboochmeister
    • Open source = insecure?

      @Tim Acheson Truecrypt is open source, so hackers have the source code, so it's insecure?

      Just because you have the source code, does not make it insecure.
      tkeller@...
      • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

        @tkeller@... It doesn't make it secure, either. Thus in one sense it's irrelevant.
        tom@...
    • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

      @Tim Acheson If you think OSS is insecure from it's openness, then you're COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT!

      Open source software allows for editing of software, so if you spot something insecure...you can FIX IT YOURSELF! And if you're feeling nice you can share said fixes with the world.
      ZazieLavender
    • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

      @Tim Acheson ROFL!!! Not too bright are you?
      blueskip
      • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

        @blueskip ,,, Or you aren't; what are you basing your comment on? It's easy to make statements; harder to back them up.
        tom@...
  • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

    Andriod itself is not the issue. The extreme variations are real. It's how network access is configured, managed, and profiled between the host and client. Any device is vulnerable, not just Android. Any network is vulnerable. Software implementation and operation is the awkward and insecure space.

    Good Interview David.

    Doug
    doug.hanchard@...
  • Probably the worst thing you could do.

    No one matches the military equipment and training of the US. Android would be the best way to allow any enemy to bring it down. Android is not even secure enough for personal use. It should be completely off limits to the military.
    Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

      @Johnny Vegas OMG I hope you don't have a job that matters anywhere! You couldn't possibly be more wrong.
      blueskip
  • Is open source secure?? Really

    Just the fact that open source is freely open should lend to most concerned about security that it does seem to have that ability to not be secure. Its like having a combination lock and publishing the code? Where is the security in that?
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • Sounds Like you know nothing about open source software

      @jscott418
      Open Source is more secure because people can investigate the source, find bugs and holes and fix them, not just a small group of developers like might be employed by Microsoft or Apple, it can be tested by the best across the world, this has been proven by time to be a better and stronger way to secure software. Look at Windows XP, now 9 years old and still security holes being fixed every week. Look at Open source software like Qmail, still 15 yrs later has a $500 bounty if you can hack the pure Qmail software program
      GaryOtto
      • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

        @GaryOtto <br><br>"people can investigate the source, find bugs and holes and fix them"<br><br>Or people can find the bugs and holes, not fixing them but exploiting them.
        rice2999
      • and they can also investigate the source, find bugs and holes and

        @GaryOtto
        exploit them.

        And Linux servers have been hacked a few times in the last 6 months, even with all that scrutiny
        William Farrell
      • That is a notion about open source but the reality is:

        1) Many issues in MS OSes are found by others. good guys notify MS and bad guys misuse it.

        2) For open source, there are very few poeple who read the source code. The % of such readers is less than the number of developers in MS.
        khzind@...
      • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

        @rice2999 "Or people can find the bugs and holes, not fixing them but exploiting them."

        And how exactly is that different from what's being done with Windows and other variants DAILY????

        @William Farrell "And Linux servers have been hacked a few times in the last 6 months, even with all that scrutiny" Ok let's now count the number of times OTHER servers have been hacked? Nevermind, I can't count that high.
        blueskip
      • RE: Is Android secure enough for mission-critical government and military use? (Exclusive video)

        @GaryOtto ,,, Yes, look at them. More solid, secure and reliable than any other OS out there right now. 98 & XP Pro are still my workhorses.
        tom@...
    • So wrong......

      @jscott418

      The Pawn to Own contests stop trying to hack the linux systems because they couldn't do it, and failed to win the prizes for breaking linux. Notice that they only do Windows and Macs now, and they succeed every time.

      SO yes...Really...linux is much more secure than any of those closed source system.
      linux for me