Which is the least secure mobile operating system? If you listen to the deluge of warnings from firms jostling to sell smartphone anti-virus software, you might be tempted to pick Android.
But such hand-wringing concerns have done little to put the US military off the platform – and given their handsets are likely to be put through more perilous circumstances than most, maybe it's on to something.
US military research unit, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will pay security firm Invincea $21.4m over the next few years to develop Android security – dubbed Mobile Armour – for its smartphones and tablets that could be deployed behind enemy lines.
Invincea itself was created thanks to DARPA funding, and has built security software that minimise the threat of zero-day exploits and the like by creating secure virtualised environments that can run on top of the operating system, sandboxing browsers, PDF readers, Microsoft Office apps, as well as zipped and executable files.
The firm has already built some initial secure Android devices which have been deployed in Afghanistan. Invincea predicts this will be the forerunner to commercial products.
“The investment by DARPA and the US Army in the Mobile Armour project demonstrates the critical need for secure mobility,” said Anup Ghosh, chief executive of Invincea.
There's always been talk of machines fighting the wars of the future, instead of men, although there can't have been many who thought it would be Google's Android that took to the battlefield first.
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