IDF gets Smartphones

Career soldiers to receive high-tech cell phones as IDF (Zahal) embraces new technologies

Date: 01/02/2012, 11:13 AM     Author: Bamahane magazine

Career soldiers are getting ready to replace their old phones. The Defense Ministry’s new cellular phone allocation, based on the characterization of needs presented by the IDF (Zahal) Computer Services, will grant high-tech cell phones to career soldiers.

The Defense Ministry is interested in devices that provide expanded services such as mobile browsing, multimedia messaging, Bluetooth, conferencing, personal email and schedule synchronization. Users receiving new phones were divided into five groups, according to ranks and roles, with each receiving a different device.

The first group consists of about 200 users, including senior IDF (Zahal) officials, who can choose from a number of advanced devices.
The second group consists of around 12,000 users at lower ranks; they will be able to choose from two Smartphone options. The third group of about 15,000 will also receive a Smartphone but without a choice as to which they receive. Lastly, the fourth and fifth groups of junior officers, who currently use the closed-system “MIRS,” will remain without a Smartphone for the immediate future.

This is not the first time the IDF (Zahal) has upgraded its cell phone system. The current system the “MIRS” was selected in an auction in 2005, replacing the previous “Pelephone” system. Officers and warrant officers were given color display phones for the first time, and are still in use today.

Advanced wireless devices will present a new challenge for information security, and there is a worry that the new technology could potentially be used by hostile elements for collecting intelligence and monitoring activity. A senior information security officer said that they are facing these new challenges together with the Computer Services branch in order to provide modern equipment to protect against viruses, enforce security policies, and prevent outside elements from accessing and monitoring potentially classified information within phones.