Strong executive desire to use iPhones led the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to start looking for solutions that would separate government from personal information.
Speaking at AusCERT 2013 on the Gold Coast, Department of Sustainability CIO Al Blake told delegates that it has 2500 users based in Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and other locations in Australia.
Read our Guide to Using your Android Phone
"For the last 18 months we have been grappling with the pressure to have modern mobile devices," he said. "This was a scary prospect because of government regulations [around data]."
To overcome this, the Department is currently trialling a mobile device management (MDM) solution from Good Technology which separates government data from personal information.
According to Blake, the use of an encrypted container allows employees to use their preferred device, minimises the ICT support overhead and maintains the strong security boundary required for government information.
It is trialling the encrypted container with 350 employees who are using it on their iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone devices.
"This is enabling bring your own devices without compromising the user device or corporate compliance," he said.
For example, users are told that they need to use their home computer for their iTunes account and backup. If the Department of Sustainability finds iTunes accounts installed at work they are deleted.
"We can reserve the right to wipe the device- although we try not to," Blake said. "We also control password complexity and there is only support for corporate apps."
No jail breaking, or unlocking, of devices is allowed. Users are also told not to back their personal data up on the department's network due to the high cost of maintaining data.
The benefits for the department have been a reduction in device overheads without comprising security, happy employees and a BYOD user agreement that runs to one page.
Good Technology was certified by the Australian government's Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) to protect iPhones and iPads used by government employees in March 2013.
The DSD Cryptographic Evaluation certification allows iOS devices that use Good for Enterprise MDM software to communicate and store classified information.
Hamish Barwick travelled to AusCERT 2013 on the Gold Coast as a guest of AusCERT
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick