Boeing has ambitious plans and it has nothing to do with aircrafts or spacecrafts. The aerospace and defense contractor has filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for developing a super secure smartphone dubbed Boeing Black, which self destructs in less than 30 seconds if an embedded technology detects that the phone is being tampered with. Definitely a good phone to have to keep off the prying eyes of the National Security Agency (NSA). Unfortunately, it won't be made available to the average customer.
Boeing Black is being designed for defense and security agencies and per the FCC filing, the smartphone will have a 4.3-inch display and will be Android-based. It will be powered by dual 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 and will run on all bands from GSM and WCDMA to LTE. However, don't expect the phone to explode ala James Bond-style when it falls in the hands of the baddies - the self-destruct mode is set to simply automatically erase all the data on the phone when the device is tampered with.
"The U.S. defense and security communities demand trusted access to data to accomplish their missions. Despite the continuous innovation in commercial mobile technology, current devices are not designed from inception with the security and flexibility needed to match their evolving mission and enterprise environment," Boeing stated on its website.
"Boeing's Black phone will be sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security. The device will be marketed and sold in a manner such that low level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public. Detailed technical information distributed at trade shows will be limited or protected by non-disclosure agreements," the FCC filing read.
"There are no serviceable parts on Boeing's Black phone and any attempted servicing or replacing of parts would destroy the product. The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws, the heads of which are covered with tamper proof covering to identify attempted disassembly. Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable," the filing added.
Boeing Black is not the first phone nor the last device that focuses on security. Earlier this year, a project, which is a spin-off of Phil Zimmermann's company Silent Circle and Geeksphone, a startup company from Spain that created the Firefox OS developer devices, saw the birth of the Blackphone, which runs on PrivatOS, apparently a security-oriented version of Android.
"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," Zimmermann said.
Zimmermann did not exactly explain how the Blackphone would manage to keep NSA or GCHQ or any cyber criminal from hacking into the device, however, it seems a number of encryption technologies will go under the hood of the device that will make the Blackphone more secure than standard Android devices.
The Blackphone was showcased at the Mobile World Congress earlier this week, where it generated sufficient interest, indicating that security is now as much a selling point as the design or any other feature that goes into making a smartphone.
Blackphone, which features a 4.7-inch HD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, is powered by a 2 GHz quad-core processor and comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage. According to Blackphone CEO Mike Janke, though the specs of Blackphone are what one would expect in a mid- to high-end smartphone, what separates Blackphone from the pack is PrivatOS, which allows the user to send encrypted text or make encrypted calls that no one can access.
Unlike the Boeing Black, the Blackphone can be purchased by anybody who's willing to pay $629, which includes a 2-year Secret Circle subscription, after which the user will have to pay $10 per month. The Secret Circle subscription allows encrypted video chats and offers security-oriented apps. The Blackphone is up for pre-order and will start shipping in June 2014 in the U.S.
Sounds good, but before you go gaga over the Boeing Black or the Blackphone, it would do well for you to know that despite all the encryption and security, no device is 100 percent hack-proof. "There's no such thing as 100-percent secure," said Janke. "And there's no such thing as an NSA-secure phone. If you have a phone it can always be hacked."