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General Dynamics secures Samsung and LG Android smartphones

25 Feb 2013
General Dynamics GD Protected Samsung Galaxy S3 Android smartphone

General Dynamics Broadband is taking aim at BlackBerry's market, offering enterprises and government bodies the ability to secure commercial Android smartphones, starting with specific models from Samsung and LG.

The technology allows organisations to partition a smartphone into separate personal and secure environments, addressing the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. It also makes it possible to secure email, voice, video and the browser on a handset.

GD Protected, a family of software tools, is based on technology the firm gained from its acquisition of Open Kernel Labs last year, including the OKL4 mobile hypervisor or "microvisor" platform.

This enables the firm to partition a handset into separate virtual smartphones, similar to the way virtual machines operate in servers, or isolate individual components in the software stack so they cannot be tampered with by malware.

"We've been doing this for many years for the government and Nato, but now we've got a value proposition and price point where we can roll this out to regulated commercial industries like the financial sector or healthcare or anyone else who has a high threshold for security," Mike Guzelian, vice president of secure voice and data products, told V3.

General Dynamics is working with LG and Samsung initially, adapting their Optimus 3D Max and Galaxy S3 handsets, respectively, although it plans to support other Android devices in future.

With the LG Optimus, the firm is reselling the handset with its OKL4 hypervisor installed and two separate copies of Android, one for personal use and the other under the control of the enterprise. A hardware button on the phone is used to flip between the two environments.

This is similar to the Balance feature seen on new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, but General Dynamics said it can offer this capability "on the smartphone users want, rather than one imposed on them".

The product was originally developed for the US Marine Corps, with full encryption of data communications and data stored on the secure side of the device, plus trusted boot support.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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