Blackphone ultra-secure Android handset goes on sale

A new super-secure Android handset has gone on sale, offering encrypted voice, video and text communications which make snooping on calls or other communications extremely hard, even for government agencies.

Blackphone: military level encryption

The Blackphone was first shown off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year – and offers the same level of encryption as systems used by the military, its creators claim.

Its makers promised that the handset would launch in June, and made that deadline by one day, The Register reports. The Blackphone will ship to customers who pre-ordered this week, and go on general sale on July 14.

The Blackphone is made by Silent Circle, the creators of the widely used PGP encryption standard, in partnership with Spanish company Geeksphone, according to The Register’s report.

Privacy above all else

Toby Weir-Jones, CEO of SGP Technologies  (the two companies’ Switzerland-based joint venture), said in a statement this week, “Blackphone’s arrival puts mobile privacy directly in the hands of professionals and consumers everywhere…the pent-up demand for Blackphone shows there is strong, international demand for our brand’s devices and services that stand apart by placing privacy before all else.”

The Blackphone offers anonymous web browsing and encrypted communications via a customised version of Android 4.4, known as PrivatOS. The encryption can be switched off if users wish to make a less confidential call such as ordering pizza.

Phil Zimmermann, the inventor of PGP, the most widely used system of encrypted email in the world, describes his new creation as allowing  “two humans to whisper in each other’s ears from across the world.”

A hit with the Fortune 100 set

Zimmermann said, in an interview with We Live Security, that the Blackphone had already been ordered by a majority of the companies on the Fortune 50 list. Zimmermann said that one Dutch phone company, KPN has already ordered “hundreds of thousands” to ship to ordinary consumers.

“Blackphone isn’t spy-proof,” Zimmerman said. “if someone really wants to listen in, they can stick a microphone on your wall. But when you see that green ‘Secure’ logo on screen, and say something sensitive, it has a tremendous effect on how comfortable you feel.”

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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