The President was given a BlackBerry 8830 World Edition with extra crypto—for unclassified calls and e-mail. He liked his Blackberry so much he continued to carry it even though the technology was getting rather elderly and the company has been going down the gurgler.
In an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Barack Obama said he now carries a secure “smartphone” that is so locked down that he compared it to an infant’s toy phone. The phone in question was not an iPhone of course but a “hardened” Samsung Galaxy S4.
The S4 is currently the only device supported under DISA’s DOD Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S) program. In 2014, a number of Samsung devices were the first to win approval from the National Security Agency under its National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program—largely because of Samsung’s KNOX security technology. And the S4, layered with services managed by DISA, is the first commercial phone to get approval to connect to the Secret classified DOD SIPRNet network.
The DMCC-S handset sacrifices some of the Galaxy’s functionality for security purposes. While it uses biometric authentication, there’s no user-accessible camera. The Android applications on the DMCC-S Galaxy are restricted to a selection from DISA’s Mobile Application Store (MAS).
Obama’s device has even further security restrictions. Obama told Fallon that he cannot place phone calls on it—the phone is likely restricted to secure VoIP functionality, with outside calls controlled from a secure switchboard.