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A Smartphone for the NSA

Unfortunately, even though the image below bears an uncanny resemblance to our Treo 650 it is not that of a future model but instead the conceptualized drawing of L-3 Communication’s winning proposal for a Secure Mobile Environment – Portable Electronic Device (SME-PED) to be developed for the National Security Agency (NSA).

According to L3’s press release, “SME-PED is a secure wireless product that will provide users with voice and data communications supporting security levels up to Top Secret, as well as e-mail communications supporting security levels up to Secret. The SME-PED also provides Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) functionality. The SME-PED will provide the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other U.S. Government users with a converged voice and e-mail communications device similar to commercially available devices (i.e., BlackBerry(R), SideKick(R), Treo 650(R))”. 

There are (of course) no specifications of any kind but from the drawing I would guesstimate that this device is about one inch taller than our Treo given the larger rectangular screen (which I really like).  There’s also no indication as to whether the SME-PED (quite an acronym) will be using PalmOS, Windows Mobile or a third party operating system.  Additionally, I wonder if Palm had submitted a proposal for this project as L3 is the winner of only “one of two $18 million multi-year contracts” – I am curious to know who the other company is.

At any rate, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that we won’t be able to buy our own SME-PED anytime soon – not unless you’re one of the 007’s or happen to run a large country and your own spy network…

L-3 Communications Announces Contract Award to Develop a Secure Mobile Environment - Portable Electronic Device; Secure Wireless Communications Device [BusinessWire]

Treonauts like theirs stirred not shaken


Posted by Andrew on September 16, 2005 at 09:22 AM

Treo Killers?

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Smartphone for the NSA:

» The NSA is getting its own smartphone from Ubergizmo, the Gadgets Blog
L-3 Communication won the contract to provide the NSA with a communications device to the National Security Agency (NSA) the agency specialized in spying communications and data. It looks strangely like a Palm Treo. As the device won't... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 16, 2005 12:08:54 PM

» NSAs Treo 650 clone from Treo Today
Soon, secret agents may be carrying a smartphone that looks suspiciously like a Palm Treo 650 smartphone. L-3 Communication has won a proposal for a Secure Mobile Environment – Portable Electronic Device (SME-PED) to be developed for the US Natio... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 17, 2005 1:50:31 AM

» The NSA is getting its own smartphone from Ubergizmo, the Gadgets Blog
L-3 Communication won the contract to provide the NSA with a communications device to the National Security Agency (NSA) the agency specialized in spying communications and data. It looks strangely like a Palm Treo. As the device won't... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 18, 2005 3:39:46 PM



Comments

1
by Gekko | Sep 16, 2005 5:49:51 PM

i'm not a big fan of lawsuits, but palm should sue. this is ridiculous.

2
by Just Some Guy | Sep 17, 2005 12:58:33 PM

Well, I haven't seen the specs for this device, but I could make a few guesses. Knowing how a STU-III (Secure Telephone Unit 3.0) works, I'd say the C S and TS LEDs across the top show the security level of the communications link, Confidential, Secret or Top Secret. The communications link could be an instant message, a telephone call, or an E-mail, or something else. The device probably has a crypto ignition key or CIK. The CIK, when removed and separated from the device makes it unclassified Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI), meaning there's no classified information contained in a unit. It is devided between the two.

3
by Steve Packard | Sep 17, 2005 4:05:39 PM

Leave it to Uncle Sam to reinvent the wheel. All their needs could have been met by the Treo-650 with customized software and firmware or possibly a customized hardware encryption engine added to the Treo.

But of course, that would use existing, off the shelf technology, which would be far too inexpensive.

No, instead the government has decided to have a custom device built from the ground up, costing 18 million dollars for development, assuming it doesn't run over budget, which it probably will.

The Treo-650 already has plenty of software which could be used for the functions that do not require security and has all the power necessary to be loaded with secure software and firmware. There is even existing software which allows some phones to make ultra-secute encrypted phone calls over a data connection.

Not only would using the Treo be much cheaper and offer more software support, it would also prevent the phone from standing out in public.

There's your tax money folks!

-Steve

4
by Just some other Guy | Sep 27, 2005 10:22:42 PM

Are you kidding. The 650 is rife with security holes from a tempest perspective. That alone would be worth at least a million in testing. The phone must provide systemic, redundant protections against the data being accessed by the wrong person and hardended to various forms of analysis. I wouldn't be suprised if the thing supports a security dongle that transmits via skin conductivity or something like that.

5
by jaylcee | Oct 18, 2005 2:18:06 PM

General Dynamics is the other Company and the Government is only funding half of the $18M - the other half is an investment by the companies. It will be no easy trick to develop a PDA(not a brick) that will provide all the functionality required, meets all the security requirements, and catches the fancy of those who have or want to use it. Has anyone seen or heard what GD is proposing?

6
by 007 | Nov 13, 2005 1:14:50 PM

GD and L-3 each won $18M development contracts, and trust me... it is going to cost a lot more then the $18M they got to develop the SME-PED... building a device for classified use is no easy task, but most can't begin to imagine what it takes to make such a device. BTW, you must be retarded to think that the end device will look like the photos on the web. Companies that play in this tradespace have thier act together... dummys... they cater to the white hats... no way will it look anything like this, heck... it may even have a build in underwater re-breather since it is for 007...

7
by Harrison John | Nov 23, 2005 9:19:17 AM

Hello,
how are you doing and how is your bussiness? I'm Harrison John by name.I am interested in your product(Treo 650-6 units) and will like to know if you will accept Telegraphic Transfer as i will be using that to pay you ?
I will also like to know if my goods will be release for shipment upon the arrival of the fax for the comfirmation of the telegrphic transfer?
Kindly calculate the shipping cost to :
NAME-Harrison John
ADDRESS-MILLITARY CANTOMENT,
CBQ 14, NA-BORI CAMP,
CITY-IKEJA
STATE-LAGOS-NIGERIA.
TELEPHONE-+2348025032450

8
by nick | Mar 3, 2006 11:47:48 PM

I've found the first treo killer-- Cingular 8125, im a loyal treo 650 user, but this phone rocks... im selling my treo on ebay now!!!
check out the specs on it, the windows mobile 5 runs great, and email syncs flawlessly!

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