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If you happen to be an Mi5 agent or a once NSA eavesdropped president, you might be aware of the Blackphone. The so called un-hackable phone; an untraceable handset that’s supposed to be NSA-proof, putting privacy back in the hands of the user.

But what is it? Will Mi5 spies and the security paranoid be queuing round the bend for this super-safe phone, or is the term ‘un-hackable’ a little optimistic for a smartphone in the modern world?

Privacy Focused

Blackphone is the first privacy-focused smartphone created as a response to the widespread NSA spying allegations and global surveillance impositions.

Developed by two companies, Silent Circle and Geeksphone, the Blackphone is a smartphone designed to provide a higher level of encryption for phone calls, emails, texts, and internet browsing.

So how does it work?blackphone 22

As you can imagine with a privacy focused smartphone, the manufacturers aren’t singing exact specification from the rooftop, but they have announced many of the features.

The core of the Blackphone suite is the pre-installed privacy and security software, there to protect your identity and conceal your actions.

The majority of security leaks with a standard Android smartphone don’t actually come from calls or texts (unless you are a spy). The leaks tend to be sprung from third-party apps, which can be infiltrated and used to store/access your data.

Blackphone gives users more insight into what third-party applications want with your data. Using the Security centre, users can chose what conditions or permission to accept and amend; unlike with other major platforms where you pretty much sign your soul away in one swift swathe to use Facebook

 

Silent Circlesilent circle

For the NSA eaves-dropped presidents out there, Blackphone has a subscription to the Silent Circle suite of applications: Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Contacts.

Silent Circle uses end-to-end coded transmissions on their secure network, meaning your interactions are protected from prying eyes and sneaky eavesdroppers attempting to listen in on your calls and texts. Before any text or phone call is sent, the Blackphone will basically encrypt every detail – as long as the recipient is part of Silent Circle.

The Blackphone also has an anonymous search function like DuckDuckGo, private browsing, and VPN from Disconnect;

The phone also comes with super-secure cloud file storage from SpiderOak- 5GB of supposedly “zero-knowledge encrypted data backup”.

 

Un-hackable or just really secure?

blackphone privacy

Although an incredibly secure platform compared to a standard mobile phone, the Blackphone is not completely un-hackable. There are theoretically ways in, but more precautions have been taken with the device to stop unwanted intruders.

The Blackphone is not designed to be an impregnable safe at all. Although its standard security features are very much enhanced, the device is there to alert users as to what danger/privacy breaches are out there. It’s then the user’s choice if he/she continues with the process.

Blackphone uses a mixture of their own secure applications and clear notifications to alert the user as to what possible security breaches there are on the phone.

 

Choose your privacy

Blackphone isn’t the first encrypted phone to hit the market. There have been other attempts at security conscious smartphones, however they have almost all failed when it comes to popularity with consumers. People apparently don’t really care enough to have a fully encrypted service.

Blackphone have tried to work on these previous market failures giving the user more a choice when it comes to encryption.

Naturally not all communication needs to be secure so the Blackphone gives the user the chance to choose the level of privacy for each communication. The idea is that a call to order your pizza may not be as sensitive as an intergovernmental conference call.

 

Open Androidblackphone privateos

Many people may be a little surprised to hear that the Blackphone uses the Android OS, although widespread, the Android platform is often perceived as a one of the more insecure mobile operating systems due to its open source nature.

However the experts at Silent circle have made a number of changes and adjustments to boot up the Android security- The “new” operating system has been renamed “PrivatOS.”

 

Design and Cost

Let’s put it out there straight away, Blackphone is not cheap. The privacy conscious amongst you will have to fork out $629 to buy the handset, simfree from the company itself. However your £375+ will get you 2 years free subscription to Silent Circle, Disconnect and SpiderOak, which is supposedly worth and extra $250.

As for the design and features, the Blackphone is a pretty ordinary looking smartphone, especially for something in the iPhone/Galaxy price range. It has a 4.7 inch HD IPS display, 2GHz quad-core processor, 16GB storage and an 8-megapixel camera. Not bad spec, but not top of the range.

 

Key Features

Remote Wipe & Protect– Gives the users the ability to control or wipe your data from anywhere in the world, If your phone is compromised

Secure Search & Browsing– Secure search and internet use, so agencies can’t see what government secrets you’ve been searching

Secure File Transfer & Storage– 5GB of secure file backup, for the most sensitive tactical files.

Secure Voice, Video & Text– The Silent Circle suite allows users (using the same service) to speak securely on a closed line.

Blackphone Security Centre– Gives you complete control over the flow of data to and from the applications and services on your device.

Compatible with any GSM Carrier– No contract obligations, Blackphone is yours to use, configure, and modify at will

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16 COMMENTS

  1. -Well if you read all the above it says it is not really un-hackable, just more secure, and warns people of what does what on their phone.
    -Basically it sounds like it tells you more about the dodgy google permissions.
    Unfortunately, it sounds like just another ROM. Which of course you would have to spend more time releasing a ROM for many different phones which will have weakness and flaws show. Where as with the blackphone they have one phone with one goal.

    Some have said on other websites, if you want to take your privacy seriously you can make it secure like the blackphone with apps that are available, but then thats trusting some third parties surely. Who do you trust?

  2. It is high time that google added some of this security to android as standard. In particular the ability to release permissions to apps selectively rather than the broad brush approach adopted by many app creators. There is an app that does this but its security has been questioned and it would be much better if Google built it in at source

  3. On passing these days computer security conference BlackHat one of the participants on behalf of Justin Case managed to crack protected from unauthorized access smartphone Blackphone. As the portal SecurityLab , managed to hack in just 5 minutes.

    Recall that Blackphone was first announced in January 2014 and entered the market in early July. Development Blackphone engaged Spanish manufacturer of mobile phones and the company Geeksphone Silent Circle, working in the field of information security. The developers claim that the smartphone is fully protected from any unauthorized attempts of eavesdropping and wiretapping.

    Blackphone has a display with a diagonal of 4.7-inch HD-resolution, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4i. The device is screwed up 1 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal memory. The main camera has a resolution of Blackphone 8 megapixels, and the front – 5 megapikseley.Smartfon running system PrivatOS, built on the basis of Android 4.4 KitKat.

    It should be noted that the issue of data privacy smartphone users and conversations became acute after a former employee of the US National Security Agency Edward Snowden has published a series of secret US intelligence documents relating to the interception of telephone conversations of politicians.

    Broke out after this scandal forced the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to acquire their own secure smartphone . However, representatives of the NSA questioned its reliability , and later found out that the error made ​​when purchasing similar devices for members of the German government, has led to the fact that Merkel has failed to communicate with his subordinates on a secure line.

  4. “Many people may be a little surprised to hear that the Blackphone uses the Android OS, although widespread, the Android platform is often perceived as a one of the more insecure mobile operating systems due to its open source nature.”

    The fact it’s open source makes it MORE secure. Really now, who wrote this articles.

  5. Open source means more secure not less as you can audit what the software does, rather than rely on someone telling you it’s secure without anyone independent being able to know what it does. If you have any doubt about the lack of security in closed source software, count the number of updates Windows makes and try to understand what was wrong and what was ‘fixed’ by the update – not exactly informative… Someone engaged in writing reviews should be aware of this.

  6. Nor much point having a “private” phone when the scumbags have allegedly got access to every sim card.

    SIM maker Gemalto denies damage amid NSA hacking fallout
    – Dado Ruvic
    Europe, Information Technology, Intelligence, Internet, Law, Politics, Security, USA Dutch-based chip maker Gemalto has acknowledged that American and British spy agencies tried hacking its systems years ago, but critics have slammed that response as denial and damage control.
    In a statement Wednesday, the multinational corporation confirmed last week’s revelations of hacking by the United States National
    Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ in 2010 and 2011, claiming they “only breached its office networks and could not have resulted in a massive theft of SIM encryption keys” as reported.
    Reporters who uncovered the hacking attempts have criticized Gemalto’s statement, saying the company only learned about the
    attacks last week when reached for comment, and that a proper investigation in just five days was simply not possible.
    The Intercept magazine, which published the original investigation into the Gemalto hacks, quoted several security experts who
    characterized the company’s statement as “a lot of effort to minimize and deny the impact of some old attacks,” and more of a
    “damage assessment” than a proper investigation.
    Last week, The Intercept published an investigation into the hacks by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley, based on the revelations by
    Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA. Snowden’s documents provided insight into how and why the surveillance services targeted the Dutch-based multinational. Gemalto makes some two billion SIM cards for 450 wireless providers around the world, as well as chips for luxury cars and biometric US passports. Its security technology is used by more than 3,000 financial institutions and 80 government organizations.
    However, documents cited by The Intercept directly contradict this: We “believe we have their entire network,” the author of a secret GCHQ slide reportedly boasted.
    The Intercept’s investigation reported that the hacks targeted SIM cards belonging to mobile operators in “Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Serbia, Iran, Iceland, Somalia, Pakistan and Tajikistan.” Gemalto acknowledged this, but claimed these cards were using the obsolete, 2G technology, and that current users in the West – who rely on 3G, 4G and LTE technology – were “not affected.”
    Targeting the manufacturer of SIM cards, used in most mobile devices around the world, would give the US and UK intelligence agencies the ability to collect mobile communications without government warrants or the permission of service providers.
    Theft of the SIM keys “enables the bulk, low-risk surveillance of encrypted communications,” Christopher Soghoian, principal
    technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Intercept. Gemalto and its employees were targeted by spies “not
    because they did anything wrong, but because they could be used as a means to an end,” he added.
    According to The Intercept, fixing the security flaws in the current mobile phone system that intelligence agencies “regularly exploit”
    would take “billions of dollars, significant political pressure, and several years.” Jeremy Scahill, one of the authors of the original article, was disappointed by Gemalto’s denials as much as the media’s willingness to take them at face value.
    Eric King, deputy director of the London-based advocacy group Privacy International, called trust in the security of communications
    systems “essential for our society and for businesses to operate with confidence” in a statement on Wednesday, adding that “The impact of these latest revelations will have ripples all over the world.”
    China appears to have taken notice already. Citing security concerns over Western hardware, the government in Beijing has dropped a number of Western companies from its approved state purchase lists. Cisco, Apple, Citrix, and Intel’s McAfee security software are among the affected.
    However, unnamed technology executives told Reuters that security concerns were only a pretext, and that the “real objective was to nurture China’s domestic tech industry and subsequently support its expansion overseas.”

  7. “Paranoid? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”
    ― Jim Butcher, Storm Front

    “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”
    ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

    “Paranoia is just having the right information.”
    ― William S. Burroughs

    “Some people think this is paranoia, but it isn’t. Paranoids only think everyone is out to get them. Wizards know it.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

    “Call me paranoid. I’m frequently right.”
    ― Seanan McGuire, A Local Habitation

    “There is no literature and art without paranoia. Probably there would be even civilization. Paranoia is the world. It is the attempt to make sense of what has not.”
    ― Thomas Pynchon

    😉

  8. There is nothing well reasoned in these paranoid, and mostly cut and pasted, comments.
    “The internet is out to get me,,,so I’ll tell the world,,,by using the internet,,,no mom, I don’t want my meds,,,there out to get me as well”

  9. Sorry,,,”they’re” out to get.
    Just in case there’s a bedwetting grammar nazi out there.

  10. Grammer Nazi now that’s funny! Oh shit so after reading all this, I believe it’s just safe to say if your a terrorist your fucked.

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