Menu
New Blackphone promises secure communications and privacy

New Blackphone promises secure communications and privacy

The phone is the creation of smartphone manufacturer Geeksphone and encrypted communications provider Silent Circle

Playing on mobile users' fears of commercial and government surveillance, two companies are building a phone they say is designed to protect privacy. The joint venture between smartphone manufacturer Geeksphone and encrypted communications provider Silent Circle will unveil the new device called Blackphone at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona next month.

Blackphone will run an Android-based OS called PrivatOS that the companies claim will allow users to communicate securely. According to them, users will be able to make and receive secure phone calls, exchange secure texts, exchange and store files securely, engage in secure video chats, browse privately, and access the Internet anonymously through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.

Details about the technology used and other implementation aspects are not yet available and Geeksphone declined to release any additional information ahead of Mobile World Congress. However, giving Silent Circle's involvement, it's reasonable to assume that some of the company's existing apps and services will be integrated into the new handset.

Based in National Harbor, Maryland, Silent Circle offers subscription-based encrypted voice calling, video chat, text messaging and file transfer services through Android, iOS and desktop apps, some of which have had their code released publicly.

The apps use end-to-end encryption technology based on open cryptographic standards, some designed by people who founded Silent Circle like Phil Zimmerman, the company's president and creator of PGP and ZRTP, and Jon Callas, the company's chief technology officer. Both Zimmerman and Callas are members of the new Blackphone team.

Silent Circle operates servers in Montreal and Toronto and according to its website has plans to open a new facility in Switzerland, which is where the new Blackphone joint-venture is based.

If the new phone does use Silent Circle's services, it's not clear whether users will have to pay a monthly or annual subscription to use them. There's no estimated price or general availability date for the smartphone itself either.

While adding encrypted communications is important, developing a truly secure phone takes more than that. There is currently no information about the hardware components used in Blackphone, some of which, like the baseband processor that controls the radio functions of the device, have their own low-level proprietary firmware.

Security researchers have warned in the past that potential vulnerabilities in baseband firmware can undermine the application-layer security features of the OS.

Hopefully Silent Circle will display the same level of transparency for Blackphone as it did for its existing apps and will explain how the device was designed, if and what third-party security audits have been performed and explain in more detail how PrivatOS differs from Android.

Based in Madrid, Geeksphone also prides itself on creating mobile telephony products based on open standards and open source software. So far the company has manufactured mobile phones that run Android and Firefox OS.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymobile securitysmartphonesAndroidencryptionmobileprivacyGeeksphoneSilent Circlemobile applicationsconsumer electronics

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments