Australia finds iPhones, iPads fit for government use

Australia's Defence Signals Directorate  (DSD) has certified the use of government owned iPhones and iPads for classified Australian government communications.

Acting DSD Director Mike Burgess said in a media release that the DSD has been collaborating with the industry to develop standards and enable the government to  use the latest technologies securely.

“Embracing new technologies, such as smart phones and tablet PCs, provides government with a genuine opportunity to conduct its business more efficiently. However the threat of government information being stolen or compromised is also very real,” he said.

The formal security evaluation the DSD has conducted was the first of its kind the latest Apple operating system (iOS version 5) and covers devices that are owned and managed by Australian government agencies.

“DSD is continuously working to help agencies better protect valuable government information, while still enabling them to benefit from the advantages of these devices.

The DSD provides advice and assistance to the Australian government on matters relating to the security and integrity of information. In January 2010, it established the Cyber Security Operations Center to assess ICT security threats across the government and industry.

In the published document entitled "iOS Hardening Configuration Guide for iPod Touch, iPhones and iPads running iOS version 5.1 or higher (PDF), 2012", the DSD said it has found "Apple iOS data protection classes A and B to be suitable for downgrading the handling of PROTECTED information to that of Unclassified."

The document provides guidance on policy that either must be enforced or is at the agency’s discretion, it added.