Military phones should be independently designed to protect security
Analysts have called for greater efforts to make soldiers more aware of confidentiality as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) gradually eases its restrictions on mobile Internet use in the military.
A brigade in the PLA's 16th Group Army has been allowing mobile phone use and providing Internet access in the military since a July 2015 regulation allowed military personnel to use mobile phones, including smart phones, during extra curriculum time, rest days and holidays "on condition that confidentiality requirements are fulfilled," the PLA Daily reported.
Some 98.6 percent of those who answered 1,800 questionnaires chose Internet access on smart phones when asked "what do you want the most in the military," according to a survey ahead of the trial, the People's Daily reported Sunday.
"It's good to see that the PLA has begun adapting to the operational environment in the Internet age, despite various cyber security threats such as information leaks and phone taps," Qin An, director of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global Times.
Qin stressed that smart phones in the military should be those independently designed and made, whose security threats can be controlled.
In 2014, government employees in Shanghai were asked to switch to domestic-branded smart phones with encryption technology in a bid to avoid information leaks, after a security loophole in the iPhone that might be used by overseas intelligence departments to obtain users' data, including photos, browsing history and GPS locations, had been exposed, the 21 Century Business Herald reported.
Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times that the security threats of such phones cannot be fully addressed through encryption technologies on the software and hardware, noting that "confidentiality awareness is the most critical. They (soldiers) must know what they can say over the phone."
Song noted that confidentiality education in the military should be similar to what the government had promoted.
Chinese officials and security-related personnel were ordered to abide by a 12-clause confidentiality rule issued in 2015, according to some provincial government departments' official websites.
Formulated according to a regulation to enhance classified information protection in mobile phone use jointly issued by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council in 2014, the rule forbids discussing national secrets in mobile phone communications as well as storing, processing and transmitting national classified information on mobile phones.
The rule also stresses that mobile phones that do not obtain network access licenses from China's telecommunications authorities and those sent by foreign institutions and people as gifts shall not be used.