US military and the government have already expressed their interest in the Android operating system, though it’s not safe enough for their needs, so DARPA is going to work on security improvements. A company called Invicea was granted a $21 million contract in order to fix the Android’s security risks and make it suitable for the military.
Teresa Takai, the Department of Defence Chief Information Officer, stated that “through faster access to information and computing power from any location, field units can maneuver unfamiliar environments with real time mapping and data overlay capabilities; soldiers can identify friendly forces; engineers can take pictures of mechanical parts for immediate identification and replacement ordering; and military health care providers can diagnose injuries and remotely access lab results while away from hospital premises.”
Invicea already developed a project based on Android, which is used by 3,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan. The operating system is encrypted and the device’s entire memory is filled with useless data, so if it gets in the wrong hands, no harm can be done through it.
Currently the project is in its initial phase, though further development will allow the users to install untrusted apps, which will be kept away from private data stored on the device. By creating a virtual environment for untrusted apps, malware is not able to get in because the app isn’t running on the operating system itself. Apps will also be unable of gaining root access to the device.
Hopefully DARPA will make this project open source, so the Android developers will be able to improve the operating system’s security.