Blackphone: A smartphone designed to stop spying eyes

Blackphone: A smartphone designed to stop spying eyes

Summary: A new smartphone is soon to hit the shelves. Developed by security experts including those from Silent Circle, they say that privacy will be placed in the hand of the user -- and surveillance will be made far more difficult.


A new Android-powered smartphone soon to be launched will put privacy and control directly in the hands of its users.

Credit: Blackphone

On Wednesday, Silent Circle and Geeksphone announced the formation of a new Switzerland-based joint venture and its first surveillance-thwarting product, the Blackphone.

Powered by a security-oriented Android build named PrivatOS, Blackphone is touted as a carrier and vendor-independent smartphone which allows consumers and businesses to make and receive secure phone calls, exchange secure texts, transfer and store files, and video chat without compromising privacy on the device.

The smartphone is the brainchild of security and technology specialists including Phil Zimmermann, creator of PGP; Javier Aguera, co-founder of Geeksphone; Jon Callas, co-founder of PGP Inc. and CTO of Silent Circle; Rodrigo Silva-Ramos, co-founder of Geeksphone; and Mike Janke, CEO of Silent Circle and former U.S. Navy SEAL.

"I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products," said Zimmermann. "Blackphone provides users with everything they need to ensure privacy and control of their communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features they have come to expect."

Blackphone will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, and preorders will be taken at the end of February. There are no current details available on the gadget's price.

Geeksphone is a Madrid-based firm that develops and promotes open source mobile solution. Washington, D.C.-based Silent Circle is a global encrypted communications service well-known for providing secure email service Silent Mail, before the founders chose to shutter the service in light of U.S. agency spying revelations.

Topics: Security, Privacy, Smartphones

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  • An android BlackBerry?

    Sounds like a blatant takeover of the void in market share of secure devices.
    Add an Android twist and steal part of a name and you have Blackphone.

    Look for a challenge from BlackBerry....but this might actually be great advertising for them.
    Will Obama switch?
  • Sure, right.

    I hope no one really believe this. The NSA StasiNet cannot be avoided. All encryption is, and has been, compromised.

    Talk face-to-face in a random area if you need complete privacy.
    • Security inbetween

      Zimmerman has been interested for a long time in development of secure voice Point to Point. And he has built a infrastructure for handling the Setup of calls in Canada, where the right to solicit records is more stringent. So while you can (probably) get the Meta data of address information (who calls who? Who sends e-mail to Who?) the content of the communication is going to be pretty much secure. VOIP telephony with P2P encryption and out of band signaling with the addressing set up in a foreign country is pretty secure. You have to get a LOT of metadata to be able to get anything like a Web of Influence. That is what the whole "Silent Circle" is about.
      And AES 256 is pretty stable. The primary challenge woudl be to intercept the exchange of keys at the start of session. But that becomes complex as the architecture for Silent Circle is handled separately from the RTP stream.
      As all of this stuff is "Open Source" for both review and examination, I think that this might be a pretty good and "Secure" device with respect to content of communications. Don't know how they will handle PSTN calls with this yet, or VOIP calls that they do not switch, but there sure is a lot of good going forward here.
    • Baloney. AES for example

      80 bits is considered enough to be secure even if you combined all the computers in the world including cell phones.

      The best attack against AES removes approximately 4 bits off the key space. So if you use AES 128 bit it goes down to 124 bits which is still far beyond 80 bits

      All this is really theoretical and not practical. NSA doesn't have the time or resources to decrypt all encrypted information.

      Encryption really isn't the problem. There are many avenues that are far simpler:

      Guess the password
      Steal the password.
      stupid insecure passwords
      Alcohol induced loose lips
      loose lips in general
      the trash
      unsecured lines
      badly written software i.e. passwords stored in plaintext
      direct access to the encryption algorithm
      bad implementation of encryption algorithm
      etc. etc.
  • I suggested this in a BB thread

    Develop a phone with, essentially, the Permissions Denied app built in but more cleanly so that even though an app requests access to Contacts or location, etc. you can deny it at the OS level. Apple is actually headed this way by allowing the user to control some of this stuff and Android leaves it to the programmer and an all or nothing choice for the user.
  • LMAO

    a secure android phone.
  • Radio?

    I wonder what they've done to secure the phone's radio's OS.