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Thousands of rogue Apple, Android and Windows devices found operating on the Army’s network could pose major security risks to sensitive data and Army network operations, according to a recent report.
Army commands failed to report more than 14,000 commercial smartphones and tablet computers being used across the service for research activities, data collection, mobile device pilot programs and other tasks, according to the March 26 inspector general report. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., were among the locations using unapproved devices.
Army officials at those sites did not ensure devices met security standards to protect data, and they failed to require all smartphones and tablets be wiped clean of data if reported lost or given to a new user. A lack of clear guidance from the Army chief information officer resulted in officials forgoing training and user agreements before handing out mobile devices.
“The Army did not implement an effective cybersecurity program for commercial mobiles devices,” the report said. “If devices remain unsecure, malicious activities could disrupt Army networks and compromise sensitive DoD information.”
“The Army CIO inappropriately concluded that [commercial mobile devices] were not connecting to Army networks and storing sensitive information; and, therefore, did not” require the same security standards used for other information systems, according to the report.
The IG review was conducted between April 2012 and February 2013 and did not include Blackberry devices.
The IG office set an April 25 deadline for the Army to comment on its recommendations, which include creating clear policy for tracking and reporting mobile device purchases and ensuring mobile devices follow the same security standards as other information systems. Earlier comments provided by the director for the Army CIO Cybersecurity Directorate were deemed nonresponsive.
As of February, DoD reported more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in use and in a pilot test phase, including 470,000 Blackberrys, 41,000 Apple devices and 8,700 Android devices. The challenge, however, is managing those devices.
Army officials are eager for DoD’s mobile device contract to be awarded this month. The management software will eventually manage, monitor and enforce security for 8 million devices. The software will allow the Army to remotely wipe data from devices and monitor what applications users download, websites they visit and data viewed or modified on their devices.