The greatest appeal of tablet PCs is also their greatest peril. Because they’re so lightweight and portable, tablets are more prone to damage, loss or theft. Thanks to hundreds of thousands of low-cost apps, they can be easily customized — and just as easily compromised by rogue software.
It’s a scenario a lot of agencies are struggling with. Still, some are forging ahead cautiously. For example, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command’s electronic flight bags will be used solely for unclassified purposes, at least at first, says Maj. Mike Andrews.
“The amount of classified data in the cockpit is so small that it’s almost negligible from a cost savings standpoint,” Andrews says, “and not every mission has classified data on board.”
DHS’ Program Manager Jalal Mapar says it’s important to push forward with the technology and work with vendors to create security solutions, just as organizations did in the early days of the PC.
“At the DHS, we’re very cognizant of the security issues around the amount and types of information passing back and forth between devices,” he says. “But we don’t want to wait until we have all the security issues resolved, because there will always be some. We’d rather move forward with what we have.”