Is Blackphone the World’s First NSA Secure Phone?

by February 24, 2014 02/24/14
Blackphone

If you’ve ever used PGP encryption to communicate over the internet, you may be familiar with its creator, Phil Zimmerman and his new venture, Silent Circle, which we’ve previously covered here on ITS.

Silent Circle and Geeksphone have teamed up to create Blackphone, which is a smartphone that puts privacy and security ahead of everything else. Geeksphone, a smartphone manufacturer based in Spain, is best known for their technology to enable users to choose the operating system their phone runs on.

Blackphone runs a customized version of Android called “PrivatOS” for an operating system and is described as being built to “offer unparalleled security and privacy to workers, executives, private figures and anyone else unwilling to cede ownership of their privacy to other authorities.”

As we don’t have any hand-on experience with Blackphone, we can’t offer any feedback on actual usage, but the promise of a purpose-built secure communications platform is definitely intriguing and we’re looking forward to learning more.

Blackphone Details

Blackphone is powered by a >2 GHz quad-core SoC and features a full set of premium features, such as a 4.7″ HD IPS screen, LTE, HSPA+, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB of storage, >8MP primary camera with flash and 1.3MP front camera, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n WiFi, GPS, and more. Certain specifications are subject to change and may be adjusted prior to shipping the first phones later this year.

Selling for US$629 (plus shipping and any local taxes or duties for the destination address), Blackphone is a real no-excuses solution for traveling executives looking to BYOD, families concerned about personal security, and anyone else who understands the value of maintaining personal privacy rather than giving it away for free.

Blackphone comes unlocked and features several pre-installed privacy tools, all of which are fully enabled for at least two years of usage. These tools include the Silent Circle suite of apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contacts. It also features anonymous search, private browsing, VPN from Disconnect and secure cloud file storage from SpiderOak. In addition, Blackphone ships with the Smart WiFi Manager from Mike Kershaw, Chief Architect for SGP Technologies and a powerful remote-wipe and device recovery tool.

Hardware

  • 4.7″ HD IPS Screen
  • >2 GHz Quad Core CPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB Storage
  • LTE
  • HSPA+
  • Front camera >8Mpx with flash, plus rear camera

Software

  • Silent Circle Apps
  • Silent Phone
  • Silent Text
  • Silent Contacts
  • Blackphone-built apps
  • Blackphone Firewall
  • Blackphone Activation Wizard
  • Blackphone Remote Wipe
  • Select 3rd-party apps
  • Disconnect Secure Wireless
  • SpiderOak Blackphone Edition
  • Kismet Smart Wi-Fi Manager

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MattBowyer
MattBowyer

"Is Blackphone the world's first NSA secure phone?" 

Probably was when the article was written.



Doubt it now!

KB
KB

I am about as far from a TECHY expert as one could get....

That said.....I DO KNOW that if its "online" its not safe. 

Advertising that is just misleading. }
Truth be known....NSA could easily have been the major contributor in developing this piece of hardware. 

Want to be secure, get 10000% off the grid, then you still aren't. 



Som
Som

"Is Blackphone the world's first NSA secure phone?" 

No it is not, not even close. And I will never understand why the people from Silent Circle have gone ANDROID. This is just unacceptable.

Shane
Shane

No electronic device is NSA proof. If anyone believes for one second this illusion is remotely possible, is only fooling themselves.


nick
nick

Eric is right - just having this phone is one thing, but everyone else in the circle needs it as well for it to be considered. Also, "NSA proof" is a laugh because it's practically inviting their band of geniuses to go at it.


Malware is the #1 biggest vector for security on the devices, and would like to know how they handle that and test it out.

What I'd love to see here, if possible, is hardening our existing phones. I don't know much about the space, but will gladly test them out and write something up if there's interest.

brendenvalks
brendenvalks

 I have been an avid IPhone use ever since the 3G model came out but as I learn about security, or the illusion of it. I am leaning more towards something like the blackphone for my future phone rather then another Iphone. Thoughts?

Eric  Grote
Eric Grote

Firstly, the security features such as encrypted texts and such would require the recipient to either have a Blackphone or a phone that can receive and decrypt the messages and calls. Secondly, the very fact that its pre-designed to be secure, makes it a big target for the NSA, since all they have to do is target one piece of hardware and software, vs things like CyanogenMod.

Honestly, we do not know that much about the NSA, so any claims that something is NSA proof are sort of shots in the dark. Are many of the techniques and software used more secure? Yes they make a phone or computer a more hardened target, but all things have their weaknesses, and a closed source, single device OS is not going to be much better than what you could achieve on your own with android.

One caveat is that this might be good for those that want some security without the hassle of learning how to flash roms on android and all the techie details. Maybe its the Iphone of secure phones?

outdoorman
outdoorman

So they R saying its using PGP key  for tex ? Is this right? 

If so iv used PGP for over 10 years now this not new but it works vary well.

Guest
Guest

@MattBowyer If it was the first when the article was written, it will always be the first until time machines are invented.  If you meant only, you might be right.

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