Department of Defense and Pentagon ban GPS enabled devices and mobile phones

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This new policy involves smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers and any other device or app whit GPS features

The Department of Defense has recently launched an order banning all personnel from using any GPS services, in personal or job-issued devices, in all “operational areas”.

This measure, applying to smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers and any other device or app whit GPS features, goes into effect immediately, as reported by enterprise network security experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security.

“The constant evolution of smart devices, apps and GPS features markets represents a significant risk for the Department of Defense personnel, both on, and off duties,

“The constant evolution in the market of devices, apps and services with geolocation functions poses a significant risk to the personnel of the Department of Defense both in and out of service and for our military operations around the world”, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan mentioned in a statement. “These geolocation features can expose personal information, locations, routines, and personnel phone numbers from the Department of Defense, which can unintentionally generate security issues and further risk for any Department of Defense mission”.

Enterprise network security specialists mention that under this new measure, army assets in operational areas may make exceptions to the use of certain devices based on mission requirements. Army commanders may also permit the use of geolocation services on personnel devices under their command.

The Pentagon defines an operational area as “a location where military personnel operate for the purpose of fulfilling a specific mission”. Although the order does not prohibit the use of geolocation services in non-operational areas, it requires officials to assess the risks of such mobile device functions for serviced and out-of-service personnel and to issue “rational” restrictions when they pose a threat to employees or operations.

“The main goal of this measure is to focus on the features of devices rather than on devices” as mentioned by Pentagon spokesmen, noting that geolocation services are becoming more and more present, given that almost any device today connects to the Internet.

Last May, Shanahan unveiled a measure prohibiting the use of personal work devices in classified areas of the Pentagon, supported by a possible leaking of classified material. According to reports of experts in enterprise network security, the Pentagon began to reconsider its policies regarding mobile devices after the app of the fitness monitor Strava compiled information from its users on a global heat map, unwittingly revealing the location of different military facilities.