Is Blackphone the World's First NSA Secure Phone? - ITS Tactical

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Is Blackphone the World’s First NSA Secure Phone?

By The ITS Crew


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.


  • 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


  • 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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  • 01101O10

    ITStactical I’m Weary Of Any Phone That Advertises Itself To Be #NSAProof. Blackphone_ch aiwicollective

    • aiwicollective

      01101O10 ITStactical Blackphone_ch the way code and hardware are right now nothing is safe

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • pacothegreek

    pacothegreek rename that phone the #DEATHSQUAD phone

  • Shane

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

  • breannaperkins8

    ITStactical CenterMassGroup Blackphone_ch wary*

  • HbuiltHovey

    ITStactical CenterMassGroup Blackphone_ch re NSA secure ph. We r good at breathing like NSA cracks encrypted data & code.

  • armadillo03

    Tier1Spartan I was skim reading and read “blackberry” and thought “who wants a blackberry???” Lol.

  • MarkGreenmantle

    ITStactical Blackphone_ch please correct me if wrong but weren’t ESD GSMK Cryptophones first for that level encryption and security?

  • 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.

    • HEAD

      @Som  Hey Som, The reason Silent Circle went with the Android Operating System is for several reasons. 
      A.  Its open-source, which means the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. The Android Operating System they created is called PrivatOS. 
      B.  The Blackphone ships, as do many other Android OEMs, with 150+ root certificates pre-installed into the system credential storage. This means your device is trusting a significant number of certificate authorities — some of which you may not feel comfortable about. For example, there is a “Government Root Certificate” certificate. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine which government specifically. These questionable root certificates offers anyone your device trusts to perform the previously shown practical MitM attacks. You can disable the certificates you don’t want to trust, but it’s a manual effort to disable each and you have to repeat the process every time your device is wiped. Bluebox Labs and Blackphone have been mutually collaborating about the these certificates and many of them will be removed from the Blackphone in the near future.
      The one thing you need to also consider when it comes to this phone is that is main purpose is security.  Now there are several things that you need to understand before you purchase this phone if your intending on this.  I would highly  I do want you to remember one thing though when it comes to vulnerabilities.  Every security patch or issue that was discovered with the BlackPhone, which wasn’t many, was corrected quickly.  This is impressive as most vendors when they’re informed of vulnerabilities in their products they don’t patch them right away and it can be months before its resolved.  I would recommend this phone only to someone that works with sensitive information and needs to ensure their communications and phone activity is secure.  When it comes to personal use this may not be an option depending on how you use your phone.  When it comes to the NSA approval all that means is that it was approved as a device that employees can use during their job when it comes to working with sensitive information.  I just wanted to correct you when you said it was unacceptable that they went with Android.  You need to understand that it doesn’t matter when operating system the phone uses there will always be vulnerabilities. The reason Android is utilized the most is because if their is a serious issue affecting it then the public can help in solving the problem.  Where like Apple’s IOS or Windows Phone OS which or proprietary operating systems and if there is an issue with the operating system the users are at the mercy of the software vendor.  Just read the review and I think that will answer everyone’s questions about this phone

  • 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.

  • lmnop

    just ordered from
    I cant refer them yet, but ill let you know how it goed.

  • MattBowyer

    “Is Blackphone the world’s first NSA secure phone?” 
    Probably was when the article was written.

    Doubt it now!

    • 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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