It’s no secret that information sits at the heart of just about every war that’s been fought over the the last 50 years. Data is everywherenow, as everyone’s smartphone is essentially a very small, very portable computer. Unfortunately, this is bad news for the United States Military, who has reportedly been doing a pretty lousy job when it comes to monitoring the security of its soliders’ mobile devices.

A new report published recently by the US Inspector General has brought to light a pretty serious gap in the military’s data defenses. Many soldiers bring their own mobile devices (a policy that’s aptly referred to as “BYOD”) when they’re deployed for service. Unfortunately, this means that any sensitive information stored on those devices could potentially be compromised by an action as simple as leaving a cell phone in a taxi cab.

 

The US Army and Smartphone Data Regulation

In what turned out to be a pretty embarrassing report, the Investigator General discovered that the Army doesn’t have many guidelines in place regarding the security of soldiers’ mobile devices. The report also revealed that sensitive data can easily be stored on basically any mobile device.

Should a service member’s smartphone or iPad become lost or stolen, the Department of Defense doesn’t have the ability to wipe it and erase any sensitive information.

A color photo of a soldier in an Iraqi cell phone store.

Soldiers are allowed to bring their own devices when deploying for active duty. The Army is now realizing the problem with this.

This means that if a soldier forgets their smartphone in a restaurant booth in Kandahar, untold amounts of sensitive military information could fall into the wrong hands.

In an increasingly digital age, it’s shocking that the military doesn’t have a policy in place to better deal with this type of issue.

 

Data Security vs. Human Error

Often, sensitive data can be difficult to truly secure because of human error. As Sophos’ Naked Security blog points out:

“…even the most ‘security-conscious’ people have forgetful moments, or moments of distraction and can easily leave something behind.”

The Army must also consider the fact that many of these devices are storing information that isn’t secured, protected, or encrypted; they need to put measures in place that will account for the possibility that just about anyone can have a phone fall out of their back pocket.

A color photo of a smartphone user interacting with a smartphone that bears the US Army logo on its screen.

Any phone used by a soldier may potentially contain sensitive information.

According to the Investigator General’s findings, the Army has approximately 14,000 mobile devices to look after. Even for an organization like the military, it’s no easy task monitor such a high volume of data flowing through so many different devices.

Presumably, the Army will either end its BYOD policy, or figure out how to put measures in place that mitigate the security risks it poses.  Either way, this issue is a thought-provoking reflection of our increasingly mobile-data-driven society.

Our smartphones are basically tiny little computers that sit in our pockets, and it’s no surprise that they’ve got the ability to easily store — and therefore easily compromise — sensitive government information.

What kind of measures do you take to protect the information that you keep in the cloud and/or store on your smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

 

See Also

Are You Sure You’re Safe? 8 Startling New Hacking Threats in Your Everyday Life
Is Big Brother Watching You at Nordstrom? Customer Cell Phone Tracking Triggers Privacy Concerns and Complaints
Google Play Store Bombarded By Android Scam Apps

About The Author

Sean Boulger is a freelance writer and storytelling enthusiast living in LA. He loves television, pop culture, minimalism, and two cats.

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