A few weeks ago, PadGadget reported on information that the United States Air force was considering purchasing 18,00 iPad 2 tablets. Today, NextGov has reported that the Special Operations Command has canceled its plans, possibly due to the inclusion of Russian developed security and documents reader software, GoodReader.
A few days ago, NextGov wrote an article about GoodReader and the Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC’s) decision to include the Russian developed application in its “Electronic Flight Bag” program.
According to the article, Michael McCarthy, director of the Army’s smartphone project, Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications openly questioned the AFSOC’s plan. McCarthy said he was concerned about the integrity of the supply chain with GoodReader. Apparently, McCarthy wasn’t the only one to voice a negative opinion about the use of GoodReader in military applications.
Despite the enthusiastic reviews and the software’s ability to encrypt data at rest, present and former military officials question why AFSOC, which operates a fleet of specialized gunships and surveillance aircraft, would allow its pilots to rely on software developed in Russia.
Only a few days after the article by NextGov, the AFSOC backed out of its plan to purchase the iPads. The command didn’t provide any explanation as to why it canceled its purchase order, but McCarthy’s statement that he would not use the software because he wouldn’t want to expose end users to potential risks, coupled with statements from defense industry consultant Bernie Skoch that, “It does not take much imagination ‘to conjure the catastrophic consequences’ that could result from malicious code in an electronic flight bag,” it is possible that the AFSOC backed out under pressure against the Russian made application.
In an email exchange between NextGov and GoodReader’s developer, Yuri Selukoff took offense to the accusations. “What is this offensive and insulting assumption based on?” He went on to defend his name saying, “I am not affiliated with any government institution, neither Russian, nor any other,” and added, “I am open to any security/penetration tests that anyone would be willing to perform on the app.”
It looks like the AFSOC has decided to just drop the whole idea instead of taking the time and effort to verify the legitimacy of an application that has never created malicious codes for hundreds of thousands of Americans thus far.
There was no reference to why the AFSOC didn’t just decide to create an internal application for the iPad based on GoodReader’s design that could be monitored and controlled by the U.S. military.