Apple refuses to give U.S. Department of Defense access to iOS security APIs

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) uses a program “called Go Mobile meant to provide numerous communications, training, and collaboration applications to mobile soldiers,” Jon Oltsik reports for Network World. “Mobile device security is a critical requirement for this program so Go Mobile includes user authentication, secure data storage and transfer, secure device management, etc.”

“Initially Go Mobile was build [sic] for Blackberry devices but DISA is now adding support for Apple iPhones and Google Android phones because of high demand from users,” Oltsik reports. “Unfortunately, adding iPhone and Android support is more difficult than DISA anticipated. Why? Because both Apple and Google refuse to give DISA access to their security APIs so DISA had to do a series of workarounds to meet its security requirements. For example, DISA had to add an external Bluetooth device to provide secure personal networking capabilities because Apple wouldn’t provide API access to its iPhone security stack.”

Oltsik opines, “Hold the phone here! Apple and Google aren’t willing to provide additional technical support to the United States Department of Defense? Nope. One person I spoke with from DOD said that Apple flat out refused to play ball, telling DOD to ‘talk to our integrators and carriers.’ …The fact that DOD is going the extra mile and developing workarounds demonstrates that it is willing to do the right thing for American troops in spite of this lack of industry cooperation. It seems to me that Apple and Google are making self-centered bad decisions here that won’t play well with the American public. Clearly, Apple and Google should re-think these myopic and selfish policies. Providing API access to DOD is the patriotic and morale [sic] thing to do, especially since DOD is opening the door to lots of sales opportunities for both companies.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jon, if you haven’t noticed, the U.S. government leaks like a sieve. Tool on over to WikiLeaks for proof. Apple is protecting the security of iOS; giving the U.S. government access is akin to publishing it on the Web for all to see. Providing API access to the U.S. DOD would be the foolish and irresponsible thing to do.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “dslarsen” for the heads up.]

59 Comments

  1. “DISA had to add an external Bluetooth device to provide secure personal networking capabilities…”

    Huh?!?! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”question” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I like how he tries to guilt trip them into it being the moral and right thing to do. I love my country and thank god for the troops but this all sounds like a lame way to try and take what you want from a company who is too smart to compromise their security for something that would be “nice” to have.

  3. With as much as the government is making its way into all parts of our lives I have to agree with this move by Apple (and google). The next stepin this game by DOD would be to use it for- ehem- national security and tracking security threats.

    No thanks.

  4. Agree. When the DOD learns to stop giving stupid fsck rapist Australians our secrets , then let’s talk. In the mean time, execute that weasel snitch rapist by hanging – live in RV.

  5. Here’s the real story: DoD requires users to use a Common Access Card (CAC) for client authentication (secure websites, email, etc.). To accomplish that, you need a device that can read your CAC and integrate its security certificates into the client device (laptop, iPhone, etc.). This capability is not resident on the iOS, though it is on Mac OS. So, in order to make your iOS device capable of accessing DoD secure servers, you need to either implant your own custom security API resident on iOS (a no-no for iOS app developers) or produce an external device that is capable of providing the certificates directly from the CAC to the server. The Army has decided to do the latter with a Bluetooth device.

  6. I’m in the military and quite happy Apple told the DOD to figure it out on their own. Besides the fact the DoD “leaks like a sieve…”

    Apple is sticking to principles -based decisions. It’s the only way to go.

  7. It’s important to serve our country and support our troops. However, I get the feeling that the military-industrial complex wants to keep us constantly in fear, just like North Korea does to it’s people. It’s all about power, and corruption. So there’s a limit to what you should do. Apple’s doing the right thing. And Captain America would agree:   http://captain-america.us/articles/civil-war.htm

  8. It’s important to serve our country and support our troops. However, I get the feeling that the military-industrial complex wants to keep us constantly in fear, just like North Korea does to it’s people. It’s all about power, and corruption. So there’s a limit to what you should do. Apple’s doing the right thing. And Captain America would agree:   http://captain-america.us/articles/civil-war.htm

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.