Air Force rules target BlackBerry security

Most Bluetooth functionality to be disabled

The Air Force is enacting this month strict rules and regulations governing how its personnel are allowed to use Air Force-issued BlackBerry smart phones as a way to improve security associated with the devices, reports Nathan Hodge at Wired.

The move is part of a larger initiative requiring BlackBerry and Windows mobile devices to be public key infrastructure enabled so that they can send and receive secure e-mail messages.

The 24th Air Force, which is the command responsible for defending Air Force network operations, will oversee the new security measures, according to an Air Force public affairs story.

As part of the security changes, users will no longer have the capability to send or receive text messages with photos or videos; namely, they will only be able to transmit and receive text messages. In addition, users will not be able to download applications to their devices from the Internet.

Users who try to sync a device with outdated software will get a “force load” message. When this happens, the user will have only one opportunity to decline updating the software. Any subsequent syncing attempts will disable the device until the software is updated.

As for Bluetooth functionality, it will be almost completely disabled. The only Bluetooth feature that will continue to function is the one linking the device to the smart-card reader cradle, a device that holds the user’s Common Access Card personal identification used for computer and network security. Moreover, users will no longer will be able to connect their smart-card reader cradle to their computer.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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