1. vrs626's Avatar
    We often talk about the security benefits of Blackberries, but it seems the White House has started a pilot program to let aides use Apple and other products..

    By AMIE PARNES & KIM HART | 9/3/11 7:00 AM EDT

    Call it the dawn of the Apple presidency.

    It’s no secret that President Barack Obama is a fan of Apple gadgets, and they are all around him: at his fingertips during a Twitter town hall, on his desk at the Oval Office and by his side en route to golf games.

    Now, due to popular demand by aides, the White House is moving to incorporate Apple devices into its daily routine. Last month, the information technology office launched a pilot program for the Executive Office of the President that allows Apple-loving staffers to access their official email accounts on their iPads and iPhones through a secure connection, a White House official told POLITICO. The pilot program is expected to run through mid-fall, the official said.

    Obama aides, who found themselves in a stodgy PC world when they moved into the West Wing more than two years ago, said the program is part of an effort to update White House technology. It’s difficult to convince federal information technology departments to allow new devices to connect to a government network, mostly because of security concerns, so the pilot program represents a significant step in opening its network to the high-tech world.

    Aides stressed that the program does not favor any company’s products. A wide range of equipment is still used: Dell computers are scattered throughout the West Wing, and many staffers rely on BlackBerrys.

    Still, the efforts partly reflect Obama’s affinity for the brand. Last month, when Obama left to play a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base, he carried his iPad. And when he appeared at the White House Twitter town hall in July, he used a MacBook Pro, although the Apple symbol was covered with the presidential seal. He also has an iPod.

    “He’s president at a time when Apple is at its high point, so of course the administration is going to reflect that,” a former White House official said. “Mac is considered youthful, and the president is still considered somewhat youthful.”

    In a way, the administration is bringing the Mac back. Obama supporters drew an early 2008 primary contrast with Hillary Clinton by casting the former first lady as an obsolete PC and Obama as the fresh new Mac. The narrative was cemented in a 75-second Web video, compiled by an Obama fan, that cast Clinton as “Big Brother” in homage to Apple’s groundbreaking “1984” ad.

    “On January 14th, the Democratic Primary will begin. And you’ll see why 2008 won’t be like 1984,” the ad concludes.

    “It’s more of what they did the first time around [during the campaign],” said Micah Sifry, who co-founded the Personal Democracy Forum, an organization that analyzes technology and politics. “They want Obama to be seen as cool and with it and as up-to-date as they can.”

    For Obama, Apple is not a bad brand to embrace in a weak economy. The company is, after all, one of the country’s biggest economic success stories. In early August, Apple briefly surpassed ExxonMobil as the nation’s most valuable publicly traded company, in terms of market capitalization. The most recent quarter was its best ever, with profit reaching $7.31 billion, up 125 percent from the same period in 2010.

    At a time when adding jobs to the economy is so crucial, Apple is something of a poster child for success. Between September 2009 and September 2010, the company added more than 12,000 employees, according to its annual reports.

    Of course, Apple is by no means invincible. It's unclear whether the company can sustain its rock-star status without longtime CEO Steve Jobs at the helm. He stepped down last week due to ongoing medical challenges.

    But Apple has been hailed as a model of innovation — the same type of innovation that Obama says can lift the country out of its economic doldrums.

    At the White House, where nearly every image is carefully planned and executed, it is no coincidence that the president was seen carting his iPad to a golf game, observers say. Nor was it a coincidence that Obama sat beside Jobs at a dinner in Silicon Valley earlier this year.

    “The only way this guy is going to get reelected is jobs, and the one theme he can hang his hat on is innovation,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor who teaches brand strategy at New York University. “Apple is synonymous with innovation. The imagery is really powerful, and the president’s accessories reinforce the brand. It sends a message to everyone without trying.”

    Getting their gadgets in the president’s hands is something all the top technology companies try to do, especially since administration officials have shown an appetite for using more consumer technologies. Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, for example, has touted the benefits of letting government employees take advantage of the latest tools — not just from Apple, but also from companies such as Microsoft and Google.

    Apple, which typically does not comment in the media, declined to comment for this story. Google and Microsoft also declined to comment.

    Companies often propose pilot projects as a way to let government officials and agencies test their products, according to a tech industry source, who referred to the process as a “bake off” for tech tools.

    But the security concerns surrounding off-the-shelf gadgets have made it harder for employees to use new smart phones or tablets for business.

    “Is there a pick-up in requests for the iPad? Yes,” the source said. “But it isn’t pervasive in agencies.”

    The Apple pilot program to let aides tap into the White House network has been in the works for some time, White House aides said.

    When the iPad made its debut last year, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, then-senior adviser David Axelrod and Jason Furman, the principal deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, were seen carrying the devices around the West Wing. Soon after, more than a dozen aides had the products.

    But the White House information technology office refused to let staffers use them to access official email.

    “It was more than frustrating,” the former White House aide said. “Here we were, this young hip administration, and we were using stodgy BlackBerrys and old Microsoft programs. A lot of us were starting to get iPhones and iPads, and we couldn’t really use them.”

    Obama still uses his Secret Service-approved BlackBerry instead of an iPhone. And even though he doesn’t have a computer in the Oval Office, aides said he has a Dell upstairs in his private study.

    Two White House offices primarily use Mac laptops: The photo office for editing images and the Office of Digital Strategy for software development, video editing and graphic design.

    Even Obama’s Republican presidential rivals are invoking Apple to reinforce their message about job creation — though they’ve pointed out that Apple’s products are mostly made in Asia rather than in the U.S. They say the country would benefit if Apple made its products here, creating new manufacturing jobs.

    “We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway,” presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said in a speech on Wednesday. “We need American workers building those products. It’s time for ‘Made in America’ to mean something again.”

    At Obama’s Twitter town hall, he praised Apple for “creating iPods, iPads and designing them and creating the software.”

    But the president also alluded to their overseas manufacturing, adding, “It’d be nice if we were also making the iPads and the iPods here in the United States because that’s some more jobs that people can work at.”

    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about Android’s participation in the pilot program. Android is not part of the program.
    The iPresident - Amie Parnes and Kim Hart - POLITICO.com
    09-04-11 09:06 PM
  2. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    ... waiting on one of the BlackBerry faithful to call them mindless sheep who like getting hacked...
    vrs626 likes this.
    09-04-11 09:16 PM
  3. garrett's Avatar
    ... waiting on one of the BlackBerry faithful to call them mindless sheep who like getting hacked...
    they dont have a whole lot to say because its pretty well known that iOS is more secure then Blackberry OS.
    09-04-11 09:28 PM
  4. lssanjose's Avatar
    they dont have a whole lot to say because its pretty well known that iOS is more secure then Blackberry OS.
    Intriguing, very intriguing

    Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk
    09-04-11 09:37 PM
  5. soccernamlak's Avatar
    ... waiting on one of the BlackBerry faithful to call them mindless sheep who like getting hacked...
    Nah, any phone is susceptible to hacking. BlackBerry might have the edge as they build their network and phone with this as a primary focus, but I'd be foolish to deny that Apple considers security on their phones as well.

    Ultimately, that's why this is a pilot program. They've been using BlackBerrys and Windows due to network administration for the security settings needed. If they can get other products (Apple included) on the network and maintain the same amount of security, then why not?

    they dont have a whole lot to say because its pretty well known that iOS is more secure then Blackberry OS.
    Right...that's why when the Secret Service had to make an ultra-secure phone for the president, they gave him a modified iPhone

    If you can prove it, I'd like to see it, but while Apple has made great strides in improving security on their phones, they aren't up to BlackBerry standards yet in terms of security and management over an internal network.
    09-05-11 01:03 AM
  6. i7guy's Avatar
    ... waiting on one of the BlackBerry faithful to call them mindless sheep who like getting hacked...
    You just did. Thanks for stepping up to the plate.
    09-06-11 06:12 AM
  7. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    You just did. Thanks for stepping up to the plate.
    My pleasure. Always wondered how it would feel.

    BTW, does this mean that iOS can be made just as secure as BBOS?
    09-06-11 07:42 AM
  8. Gucci33's Avatar
    Obama is a huge fan of bb I can't believe he would allow it. Just what the US needs is someone to hack their Apple products!

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    09-06-11 08:19 AM
  9. i7guy's Avatar
    My pleasure. Always wondered how it would feel.

    BTW, does this mean that iOS can be made just as secure as BBOS?
    I don't know, when law enforcement can plug a cell brite into an iphone and bypass the password mechanism in 5 seconds, would it be considered secure for government use?

    The same cell brite cannot bypass the password mechanism on a BB.
    09-06-11 09:11 AM
  10. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
    I don't know, when law enforcement can plug a cell brite into an iphone and bypass the password mechanism in 5 seconds, would it be considered secure for government use?

    The same cell brite cannot bypass the password mechanism on a BB.
    Good feature, but I think you can understand why I would say it is probably not something RIM wants to hang its hat on, no?
    09-06-11 10:53 AM
  11. soccernamlak's Avatar
    I think perhaps the security aspect of this might be network and back-end for why iOS could be used for lower-level employees at the White House (so that devices aren't suspect to network hacking). However, the ol' physical device being stolen and hacked....as i7guy pointed out, that would be a point down for iOS.

    Of course, if they're smart, they'd do more network adaption of programs/documents anyway as it leaves the device in the clear if stolen.
    09-06-11 12:09 PM
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