Booz Allen launches security system to enable mobile computing in government

03 October 2018 4 min. read

Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton has launched District Defend – a location-based security system that enhances the mobility of government devices in sensitive and classified environments. The technology, available on Dell mobile computers, uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) and military-grade security to create physical locations where devices can access sensitive data.

Currently, government workers, especially in ‘sensitive’ areas, have to use a number of devices to manage different types of information. For example, they use unclassified devices that can’t enter a classified location, as well as various classified devices that have different security levels based on the information being accessed. What that means is greater outlay on the number of government computers, as well as the requisite non-portability of the devices to maintain cybersecurity.

According to a survey by Booz Allen Hamilton, the desire for mobile computing and its benefits of easier collaboration and the ability to work from more places is hampered by stringent security standards in government. Three-quarters of government decision-makers said that mobility is very or extremely important to their organizations, but 60% noted that they have stringent security controls that inhibit mobility in the workplace.Booz Allen launches security system to enable mobile computing in governmentTo answer these challenges, Booz Allen has developed its District Defend technology, available on select Dell computers, to enable device mobility while maintaining robust cybersecurity standards. The technology combines RFID (radio-frequency identification which tracks and identifies tags attached to objects) with ‘military-grade security,’ creating physical location ‘districts’ that have varying levels of security access.

District Defend allows enabled devices to access sensitive networks when they’re in the appropriate physical location; when the device leaves the secure area, access to classified or sensitive info is closed off and encrypted. The technology takes effect regardless of whether the device is powered on or off.

As such, government workers can take the enabled laptop across various unclassified spaces like the lobby or cafeteria, secure in the knowledge that access to classified data is blocked off until the device registers that it is in the denoted secure area (e.g. the director’s office).

District Defend technology further ensures security by integrating a ‘locked in transit’ feature that keeps the device disabled and encrypted during shipping from the manufacturer (Dell) to its destination (government agency).

The technology at once enables greater mobility of devices while maintaining security and access to sensitive data – if you’re in the right physical location. The technology also significantly lowers costs by providing a single device that can perform secure/non-secure tasks while traversing secure/non-secure areas. Less devices equals less hardware costs for cash-strapped departments and agencies.

“Mobility traditionally comes at a cost for government users, restricting productivity and collaboration in favor of stricter security,” said Dee Dee Helfenstein, a Booz Allen Senior Vice President and leader of the firm’s Solutions Business. “District Defend empowers government users managing highly sensitive and classified environments to mitigate security breaches from human error, limit advanced attacks, increase enterprise mobility, and enable secure communication.”

The security tech is currently available on the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 device, a security-focused convertible laptop/tablet with best-in-class hardware security and identity authentication. “The pairing represents an ideal marriage of hardware, firmware, operating system and applications to create a tightly secured system,” said Steve Harris, general manager and vice president of Dell EMC’s federal business. District Defend will eventually be integrated into Dell’s full range of mobile computers.

In other Booz Allen news, the firm won a five-year, $885 million contract to help the Department of Defense and intelligence community implement productivity-enhancing AI technology. The firm is one of the leading providers of technology and consulting services to the US and global public sector, posting revenues of $6.17 billion in the last fiscal year.