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The UK military chose the smartphone that warrants the utmost security against malicious actors, for its sensitive communications. The iPhone 7 is being turned into a phone capable of safeguarding military-level secrets for the UK armed forces. The telecoms company BT is hardening the security of the device to allow UK military personnel to use it to discuss ‘secret’ matters and for storing sensitive data.
Steve Bunn, technical business manager for defence at BT, described the iPhone 7 as the “device of choice” for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). He said the phone will be capable of being switched between different modes, depending on the sensitivity of the call.
According to techrepublic.com, he added that BT is also working with the MoD to create “secure storage containers” on the device to hold sensitive data.
Derek Stretch, business development director with BT, said the main consideration that edged out the Samsung Note was that the iPhone 7 was already widely deployed within the MoD.
In fact, BT originally began working with an Android device, the Samsung Note 4, “but as more and more development and testing was done, the security associated with it wasn’t deemed to be sufficient, so that’s why we moved [to iPhone],” said Bunn.
The techrepublic.com later updated that a BT spokesperson challenged the assertion by Bunn that the MoD had determined the Samsung Note 4’s security to be lacking and said the MoD is still testing various devices for suitability as a ‘dual-persona’ handset. “We would like to clarify that the MoD has not expressed any views about the suitability of dual-persona technology from specific handset/technology vendors and is prototyping a range of devices.”
Various “secure” phones have been released in recent years, from the $14,800 Solarin smartphone to Boeing’s Black phone it developed for the defence and security industry.
The majority of these phones run hardened versions of Android, a choice the makers say is driven by ease with which they can alter Android’s open-source code.
Across the world, various military and security bodies use GSMK’s CryptoPhones, which run a heavily stripped-down version of Android that has had common smartphone features removed to lower the security risk.