Russia

Russia’s Defense Ministry will develop home-made secure smartphone & ‘digital ecosystem’ for soldiers working on military bases

Russia’s Defense Ministry is developing a smartphone for employees of its armed forces. Alongside the new device, authorities will also oversee the creation of mobile applications for anyone using the technology at military bases.

The announcement was made on Thursday. As things stand, it is forbidden to take smartphones or other gadgets with geolocation systems onto Russian military installations, with soldiers restricted to taking just push-button options, with limited capabilities.

The latest plans were revealed by Major General Alexander Osadchuk, the deputy head of military information systems at the Ministry of Defense. Speaking to TASS, Osadchuk explained that Russia is trying to create an entire “digital ecosystem” to help those in the military conduct daily activities on a secure device.

“[The phone] will work in different modes, including those that will allow secure communication,” Osadchuk explained.

The device will be built on Aurora OS, a Russian open mobile platform made for corporate and government customers. The phone will be developed at ‘Era’, a military innovation technopolis in the south of Russia, which focuses entirely on breakthrough technology in the defense sector.

While this will be the first phone developed by the military, private companies have attempted to make special phones that meet the Defense Ministry’s requirements, which came into force in 2019. In particular, Russian electronics company BQ began selling a device with very limited multimedia capabilities, including no voice recorder, Bluetooth, camera, or internet access.

Security concerns over electronic devices and foreign-made apps have recently come to the fore. Earlier this year, Russian defense industry giant Rostec banned its employees from using messengers WhatsApp and Skype on company computers over state security concerns.

Instead, the company has created its own system, designed to be a secure means for intra-company communications. Fully developed in Russia and adapted to the particular security requirements of various government agencies, it has been used extensively during the Covid-19 pandemic while employees work from home.

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