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Obama will have to trade his beloved Blackberry for a less sexy, but very secure device

For the vast majority of Americans, we can chat online, send emails, and browse all of the websites we want without much fear of damaging information leaking to powerful enemies. Our smartphones, Blackberry devies, and email may not be that secure, but few of us are in a position where our personal conversations would matter much to anyone else.

The same can’t be said for the President of the United States. President-elect Barrack Obama is a very prolific email user and has said on several occasions that his Blackberry is his most prized gadget.

While Obama could use his Blackberry freely as a Senator, as President he will have to trade his beloved Blackberry in for a less sexy (and user friendly) NSA-approved mobile phone. The reason Obama will need a significantly more secure mobile device is one of national security. Hackers and eavesdroppers could conceivably gain access to private conversations made with the Blackberry. RIM does offer encryption for the Blackberry, but it isn’t up to the standards needed for classified data.

The NSA does have an approved device that Obama can choose once he takes office. The device is the General Dynamics Sectera Edge. The device is a PDA phone that is certified by the NSA to handle top-secret voice communications along with secret email and web sites.

The handset has modules for Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA networks. It is said to look like a chunky version of the Palm Treo 750 with an additional display under the keyboard. Price for the Presidential rated handset is $3,350 and it comes with a two-year warranty. The lighter adapter alone costs $100.

The OS for the Sectera is Windows Mobile and includes mobile versions of Word and more. Exactly how the IE browser, well know to be the target of hackers and malicious users, is secured in the handset is unknown. An additional handset will be available at some time in the future from a firm called L-3 communications that is said to be capable of Presidential use.

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Windows Mobile?
By Burnc4 on 1/14/2009 11:46:38 AM , Rating: -1
The OS for the Sectera is Windows Mobile

...wait isn't this suppose to be a secure device?...Couldn't they get Apple to make an OSX mobile for least then he'd have security by obscurity.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Proteusza on 1/14/2009 11:54:11 AM , Rating: 5
No, then it would have to sync with iTunes and would only work with an iPresident, not the regular variety.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By MadMan007 on 1/14/2009 2:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
At least the iPresident would be released in a range of colors...oh wait

RE: Windows Mobile?
By ImSpartacus on 1/14/2009 11:54:36 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, why would they use Windows Mobile? Are they that confident with this encryption stuff? I'm surprised that they don't just create a proprietary OS. It might be a touch cheaper than 3 grand...

But what do I know, these guys do this for a living.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2009 12:01:39 PM , Rating: 5
The government has tried in the past to develop custom operating systems, it ends up costing 3x as much as a COTS solution and is less functional. Its easier to take an off the shelf product and secure it at every level than it is to roll your own.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By ebakke on 1/14/2009 12:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised that they don't just create a proprietary OS. It might be a touch cheaper than 3 grand...
Nothing a government contractor makes is ever cheaper than a product created by a corporation in another industry.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Xerio on 1/14/2009 12:40:44 PM , Rating: 2
The reason things manufactured by a government contractor are more expensive is not the fault of the contractor (most of the time). The government forces many more rules, regulations, requirements, etc on the contractor than a typical manufacturer is subject to.

Also, in this case, higher security always costs more.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By ebakke on 1/14/2009 1:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
I never claimed it was the contractors' fault. I was just stating a fact.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Xerio on 1/14/2009 1:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
A very true fact. :)

RE: Windows Mobile?
By gstrickler on 1/14/2009 2:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
That's redundant. Something is a fact, if and only if it's true. It's either true or it's not true, it can't be "very true". Truth can't be qualified (no matter how often people try to qualify it). Accuracy can be qualified, as in "it's 99% accurate", which could be described as "very accurate", however, "truth" can not.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Xerio on 1/14/2009 2:44:38 PM , Rating: 2
Great point. I stand corrected. Your post made me laugh. :)

A fact is truth. Unfortunately, it is very hard to determine the facts, especially in politics.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By ebakke on 1/14/2009 2:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
Fact: Politicians suck.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By gstrickler on 1/14/2009 3:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
Fact: Politicians suck.

and/or get sucked.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2009 11:55:10 AM , Rating: 3
Windows Mobile is quite secure after the NSA is done with it. I think you guys are forgetting this isn't an "out of the box" solution, this is an NSA Engineered solution.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Lord 666 on 1/14/2009 1:22:27 PM , Rating: 2
Is Microsoft then negligent for not adopting those same modifications by the NSA?

RE: Windows Mobile?
By TomZ on 1/14/2009 3:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
Does the general public have a requirement or a reasonable expectation of high NSA-type security? Nope.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By Lord 666 on 1/14/2009 3:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
1. Microsoft does not put a disclaimer on the outside or inside material with their Operating Systems warning the customer that use of this product could potentially lead to data theft.

2. Microsoft has the means internally and through third parties (NSA) to harden operating systems.

3. Microsoft opts not to incorporate or offer this level of security for consumer (XP/Vista) or commercial (Server 2003/2008) operating systems.

The general public has a reasonable expectation their computer will be as secure as their consumer devices such as network enabled Blu-ray player or TV, but we all know that is not the case.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By semo on 1/14/2009 4:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
you've gone on a tangent that the general public wouldn't care follow you.

read what you wrote and think how it relates to the president of the USA getting a bespoke communication device.

some of his suits probably cost more than that phone. all the work that goes behind the scenes probably costs 1000x more (i'm guessing he didn't just get a 24 month contract with verizon)

RE: Windows Mobile?
By akmsr on 1/14/2009 8:36:24 PM , Rating: 2
i hope NSA took out that part of windows mobile EULA that gives microsoft the right to access the device remotely any time and install software without letting the user know.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By jonmcc33 on 1/14/2009 11:55:27 AM , Rating: 3
Mac OS X is less secure than Windows. Windows is secure if you cannot connect through the encrypted network.

RE: Windows Mobile?
By gstrickler on 1/14/2009 2:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
Windows can be secured if you cannot connect through any network and the device is kept in a secure facility.

Fixed that for you.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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