iPad Hype Gives GovCon Firms New Opportunities

Photo: AppleThe iPad undoubtedly became one of the most-hyped products of last year, with a seemingly never-ending popularity. When legions of government employees embrace what some have dubbed the new BlackBerry for federal workers, government contractors specializing in computer and mobile security have found  themselves increasingly busy with developing new applications and systems to protect the masses of Apple converts.

ExecutiveGov reported late December how the iPad was making an entrance onto the Hill. A new proposal by the incoming House Republican majority suggested loosening the complete ban on the use of gadgets like the iPad, iPhone or BlackBerry on the floor. Cellphones, tablets and the gamut of applications that run on them will be officially available to House members as they conduct business, The New York Times reported.

The growing number of workers with iPads and Android tablets will want to use these devices for work, and many IT departments will make room in their employee policies for these devices using similar guidelines to those for workers who use their personal smartphones to access corporate apps and data, predicted ZDNet’s Jason Hiner.

But with government contractors needing that extra security to handle sensitive information, some are cautioning against bringing on the gadget full force without modifying it first. When President Barack Obama took office, his BlackBerry came under scrutiny as the U.S. government has stricter requirements for communications security.

Other countries have noted the popularity explosion of electronic gadgets with concern. Last April, Israel briefly banned the iPad because of fears its wireless signal could disrupt other devices. More recently, the British government banned the use of iPhones and iPads for federal workers, a decision that stemmed from Apple’s refusal to allow its source code to be analyzed by computer experts working for the intelligence services, according to Infosecurity. British government officials were, however, allowed BlackBerrys, which are only allowed to be removed from Whitehall following stringent encryption policies.

However, some mobile devices have been officially deemed as secure enough to handle even classified documents, email, and web browsing, one of them being General Dynamics’ Sectera Edge, a combination phone-PDA certified by the National Security Agency as being acceptable for Top Secret voice communications and Secret email and websites.

SRA International also recently teamed up with Mobile Application Development Partners to provide iPhone/iPad and smartphone  security services to the federal government. IPhone and iPad-like devices are offering public and private organizations with “tremendous operational utility,” said SRA Senior Vice President of Offerings and Products Pat Burke.

“As a result, chief information officers and chief information security officers are facing a growing demand from their senior executives to safely integrate these mobile devices into their enterprise IT infrastructures without compromising their enterprise security,” he said.

McAfee revealed in its year-end threat report how 2011 will see increased attacks on Apple products, thanks to the company’s success with its iPhones and iPad in the business market. It may be bad news for consumers, but it brings great news for government contractors who are bound to find themselves busy in the new year.

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