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Print 81 comment(s) - last by Hieyeck.. on Jan 23 at 11:14 AM

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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RE: Pfah!
By MozeeToby on 1/14/2009 12:47:25 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it's even easier than that. If the device handles classified documents, the device itself is classified. If the device itself is classified, it cannot directly connect to the internet.

I would imagine that incoming emails are handled via a trusted download onto the closed (classified) net at the white house, with the PDA then connecting to the closed net to view them. Outgoing emails are probably handled similarly, only with an aid reading each one to make sure there is no classified information.

As for browsing the web? That just isn't going to happen on a device that handles classified data.


RE: Pfah!
By foolsgambit11 on 1/14/2009 7:59:28 PM , Rating: 2
It might be able to be two totally separate devices connected to the same display, though - such that with the press of a button, the screen flips from classified to unclassified mode. Although two systems in a single handheld would be technically very difficult. But I've used desktop setups with a switch box for monitor outputs - NIPR, SIPR, and a local classified network all led to one monitor. 3 different cases, 1 monitor, to be clear. And come to think of it, we couldn't put the unclassified and classified cases next to each other, they had to be 2 or 3 feet away from each other....

You're absolutely right, though. The security is provided by restricting access to the network in the first place. It gets tricky with wireless devices, though. It's easy to prevent eavesdropping when you're on fiber optics. But, for instance, doing satellite comms took quite a bit of encryption - several large devices, in fact. Tough to miniaturize. And you had to load a new set of crypto-keys monthly. Probably something similar, even over cellular networks. I'm sure somebody will take care of all of that for Obama, though. I had to take a Blackhawk across Baghdad to pick up the new crypto.....


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