Samsung Seeks To Secure Government Mobile Phones

Samsung Electronics is working with Sectra Communications in an effort to integrate the latter’s Tiger/R end-to-end hardware security system, which relies on encryption, with the phone giant’s Knox platform. The aim is to have smartphones that are secure enough to carry classified information and other sensitive government data.

[bctt tweet=”The aim is to have smartphones that are secure enough to carry classified information and other sensitive government data.”]

CIO reported Tuesday (Sept. 22) that the market is a large one and also offers financial rewards. The site said that, by way of example, Secusmart has been successful with a BlackBerry smartphone that has a security system through a microSD encryption module. The system costs $2,250. It has been approved to carry Restricted-level voice and data traffic by the German government, though notably Restricted is one of the lower ratings for government information.

Other phones are secure enough to carry truly classified calls, but they are “dumb” phones that can carry voice alone. In terms of calls, phones need to be able to encrypt data but also must be able to prevent eavesdropping on the calls before they are encrypted.

The pairing of Sectra and Samsung would use Knox to prevent the installation of apps that could be a threat to security. In an interview with CIO, Michael Bertilsson, president of Sectra, said that “one of the biggest challenges is preventing people from installing apps,” and he cited games that can access a device’s microphone.

The previous iteration of the Sectra system, Panthon, which did not use Knox, simply shut down if malicious or unauthorized apps were detected. Then, it would have to be restarted by a system admin.

The Tiger/R system is pending approval by the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service, which has already approved Panthon for Restricted-level voice traffic. The approval could take between three and nine months, according to Bertilsson.

In Knox-related news, Samsung said in June that flaws tied to its pre-installed keyboard led to data vulnerability but that Knox had protocols in place to stop malicious attacks and protect data.

Separately, a recent study showed that federal employees using their own devices were putting agencies at risk.

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