Ballmer slams Android as 'cheap,' doomed, as Android lengthens its lead by two big steps

Ice Cream Sandwich is cool; NSA/Army Android mod will outsrip Blackberry security

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Antivirus and security apps are filtering into the market, but even the Android Market hasn't mastered the relatively minor art of not downloading malware onto its customers.

Under the Army's Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (CSDA) program, however, a hardened version of Android 3.0 is two stages of security certification away from being accepted as a secure cell-phone option for the military, according to Government Computer News.

The hardened version uses Secure Sockets Layer certification to help confirm the identity of the user, the phone and the network over which the message is sent.

The hardened version of Android is being tested now for certification under the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, which sets cryptographic standards for devices being used for communication of anything with a security rating lower than Classified.

After that it only needs SSL certificates to authenticate users and devices, and the hardened version will be off to the races – or off to the battlefield, depending on your preferences.

The push for secure Android came partly from the military, which is interested in replacing insecure, often unreliable radios with cell phones for basic communications. Extra pressure came from the White House, which the Obama Administration has been trying to convert from Blackberry to Android devices almost since Obama took office, according to GCN.

The hardened kernel will be more secure than Blackberry is now, but it won't be Ice Cream Sandwich – the purposely trivializing nickname for Android version 4.0, which Google announced this morning in Hong Kong.

The new version supports software-only GPS controls, rather than requiring capacitive buttons, a faster camera and secure Near Field Communications (NFC) for applications such as Google Wallet.

The first device it was demo'ed to run on is the Galaxy Nexus, which comes with a 1.2-Ghz dual-core processor, high-def Super AMOLED 4.65-inch display with 1280x780 resolution for full video, a 5 megapixel camera with no shutter lag and 1080p HD video recording.

It also comes with a phone-locking system based on facial recognition, offline search for Gmail and Android Beam, the NFC function it hopes will be used by more apps than just Google Wallet.

The package was enough to impress ITWorld Open Discussion blogger Brian Proffitt, if not Steve Ballmer.

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