Jul 16, 2013

    Seoul orders use of app to prevent military leaks

    SOUTH Korea's Defence Ministry said yesterday that it had ordered its staff to install a smartphone application that restricts key functions, like that of the camera, in a bid to prevent military leaks.

    The ministry said that its 1,500 staff are no longer allowed to carry smartphones into their offices without installing the app, called "Mobile Management Device".

    The order caused a long queue at the gates of the ministry yesterday because some 20 per cent of the staff had failed to install the app, officials said.

    The ministry declined to confirm a report from Yonhap news agency that claimed some staff had refused to install the app due to concerns over privacy.

    Spokesman Kim Min Seok told reporters that the app, which restricts the use of cameras and audio recording, prevents leaks through smartphones, and stops outsiders from hacking into the devices of officials.

    "We've developed a system to restrict the core functions of smartphones because of concerns that our work could be leaked through them," he said.

    For now, the app works only in the ministry compound. Officials said all South Korean soldiers would be ordered to install it later.

    The ministry promised to upgrade the app after an operational flaw emerged.

    Users of Samsung's Galaxy and other Android phones can receive and make calls and text messages, but iPhone users can only receive calls and text messages.

    About 70 per cent of South Korea's 50 million people have smartphones, the world's highest penetration rate.