Setting a new standard: Marines want a few good multi-platform mobile devices

The Marine Corps is looking for a few good handheld devices.

Mobile platforms now in use by the Defense Department can’t access multiple secure networks, or they use secure encryption systems that prevent them from being sold commercially. A recent solicitation by the service asks industry to advance commercial mobile technology so it can benefit both the government and the public.

At the heart of the Marine Corps’ Trusted Handheld Platform effort is a plan to develop and field commercially produced smart phones and tablets that can also securely access the military’s secret and unclassified but sensitive computer networks. The program also seeks to establish a collaborative government/industry consortium to set requirements and to “collectively influence development of mobile devices towards including mutually beneficial security characteristics” with the goal of reducing costs, speeding time to market and cutting device complexity.


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Besides using public-private collaboration to mitigate long certification processes, the program’s goal is to develop a technology that will become a standard commercial mobile product that uses the same hardware and software applications found in enterprise devices. These new mobile devices must also support modular additions without any re-engineering or modification to their architecture to meet security requirements for use in high-security networks, the solicitation states.

The program has several specific goals and requirements for trusted handheld devices. They include:

  • Isolation technology to separate software components, control intra-domain access and isolate device resources while providing trustworthy data paths for user interfaces and peripherals.
  • Multi-personality, providing a handheld architecture that will support guest mobile operating systems while preventing the unnecessary consumption of computing resources.

Other desired capabilities include a hardware root of trust, trusted boot loaders, multiple active user domains, domain indicators, and the ability to run Suite B encryption that meets Federal Information Processing Standards publication 140-2 and National Security Agency certifications.

When completed, the technology could be made available to the rest of government and the general public, according to the notice.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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