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: Are you a subject matter expert?
By consumerwhore on 1/14/2009 4:57:38 PM , Rating: -1
Ok, fine, I'm not going to snap back back at you insolently and only going to ask you: how's that?

Let's remind ourselves of what it is exactly we are talking about here: a metal wire used for delivery of electrical current, connected on one side to a car's cigarette lighter and to the other, the custom power connector of a portable device.

In what ways is that wire more secure than non-presidential-issue-blackberry power adaptors?

RE: Are you a subject matter expert?
By ajdavis on 1/14/2009 7:13:19 PM , Rating: 3

RE: Are you a subject matter expert?
By consumerwhore on 1/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: Are you a subject matter expert?
By grath on 1/14/2009 8:51:42 PM , Rating: 3
A car adapter plug is large enough to contain a electronic device that performs any number of useful functions. Considering it is plugged into a power source I would even say its ideal, and would be surprised if such a listening device does not exist somewhere. Many devices also pass their data through pins on the same connector as the power, and any potential data connection into the presidents communication device is a concern. I expect that such an accessory would be routinely inspected during security and debugging sweeps of presidential vehicles, which means it would be taken apart to make sure nothing unexpected is inside. I know plenty generic car chargers that you basically have to break to open up, even to get to a fuse thats supposedly replacable. So assuming the accessory is designed to be easily inspected, maybe a better term would be "readily securable," I think its worth $100.

RE: Are you a subject matter expert?
By consumerwhore on 1/14/2009 9:14:18 PM , Rating: 1
Finally... Where were you 4 hours ago?

I'm still unclear as to what one could possibly listen to at the business end of a run-of-the-mill power adapter. As for the "readily securable" argument, couldn't I apply it to anything that comes in contact with the president? How about the steering wheel of the car he's in. Must that also have the feature of being taken apart easily?

As you said, equipment exists to detect bugs and presumably the cars the president rides in get scanned regularly. Why can't they just... er... you know... scan the power cable?

By emoser96 on 1/15/2009 12:18:41 AM , Rating: 2
Something to consider is the TEMPEST emanations issue. It is relatively easy for someone to record any emanations that come from an unsecured wire connected to a secure device. This is why there are requirements to separate black from red lines transmitting power or data. As such, the charger would have to have some sort of attenuation filter as well as having passed tests to verify that no data is transmitted from the phone to the car (any sort of NVM), and that testing is not cheap. It's like the NSA's version of NASA's space certification for lightbulbs...

By Lord 666 on 1/15/2009 5:32:13 AM , Rating: 2
My 2006 Jetta has a standard wall outlet in the back of the center console. If the new Obama limo does not have the same or better negating the need for car adapter, then they need new limo designers. Plus, it would make more sense for a presidential power inverter to be universal versus issuing to just one device.

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