When United States of America's current president, Barack Obama, took office in 2009 he wanted to keep his BlackBerry 8900 Curve. In what might seem like one of those rare occasions when somebody had to say, "No, Mr. President," he was issued with a customized BlackBerry 8830; this model came with additional security features for classified email and calls. The standard BlackBerry always has been a secure environment but the type approved for the US Government featured improved security. However, since 2009 both smartphones and operating systems have been increasingly enhanced when it comes to security. Despite this and until relatively recently, President Barack had continued to use a BlackBerry: but now we know he has been issued with something else. Earlier this week, President Barack appeared on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show. He explained that his current smartphone is not so smart: it doesn't allow him to place calls, play music or send text messages and indeed, it was likened to a child's toy. Of course, there are good reasons for this: calls are likely placed via a secure switchboard using encrypted VoIP (voice over IP) technology. The device is locked down to prevent data leaks.
As to what the device is, unfortunately for the President, this is almost certainly a software modified Samsung Galaxy S4. The rationale behind this? Simply that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only device that has been approved and is supported by the "DISA DMCC-S." This stands for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Department Of Defense Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S). In other words, it's the necessary encryption required for Secret communications – although the President's Galaxy S4 appears to have upgraded security. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the first commercial smartphone approved to connect to the US government SIPRNet network – the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which may be explained as the US government's equivalent of the Internet. In order to qualify for access to these networks, the Galaxy S4 has additional security layers applied as may be familiar to Android-using enterprise customers: app selection is restricted to a number from the DISA store and the camera is not accessible, for example. In 2014, a number of Samsung KNOX-supported devices were approved for the US National Security Agency's "Commercial Solutions for Classified" program, but from this pool the Galaxy S4 is the only device (we are aware of) given the higher level of approval.
It would appear that using a dumbed down Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the many compromises that U.S. President Barack Obama must make, not least is the inability to use his work 'phone to snap a cheeky selfie in a secure location! You can see a highlight of the conversation with Jimmy Fallon on the YouTube clip below.