A new smartphone designed to be secure by default is in the works by a joint venture in between PGP’s creator Phil Zimmerman company, Silent Circle and the first Firefox OS mobile maker GeekPhone.
Full details will be released next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona but initial technicalities made public in the press release point towards a smarphone running a custom open source Android operating system called PrivatOS, able to make secure voice or video calls and send secure text messages or files and store them, there is also mention of a VPN, this should stop data packet sniffing when surfing the Internet on the mobile phone.
Blackphone security could be defined as secure hardware, custom OS and security applications. I would imagine that Silent Circle’s own software security suite will have a role to play in securing Blackphone communications.
The good points of what it is known so far are that one of the people behind the company developing it is Phil Zimmerman and he does not come across as the kind of person who would sell people’s privacy to the NSA. The second good point is that hardware security will be taken into account, the third good point is that the project will be open source, at the very least PrivatOS, not sure about hardware, and the fourth good point is that Blackphone will be unlocked and not tied to any carrier.
Blackphone’s bad point of what it is known so far, is that it has been named as a high end device, the price will likely be out of the reach for ordinary people.
For those of you who can’t afford to pay businessman prices for a secure smartphone, I would recommend you to get an Android phone that is supported by Cyanogenmod, a forked version of Android without all the spyware that Google embeds in Android phones.
Wipe Android OS for good when you have the device and install Cyanogenmod, open a fake Google Play account, which I only managed to do with a Chinese proxy as attempting to do so with a USA IP made Google insist on verifying the account using a mobile phone number. Download Orbot, a Tor proxy to surf the Internet, Redphone to make secure calls and ChatSecure to encrypt real time chat conversations. All of the applications named and Cyanogenmod are free. Your phone could not be as pretty as the Blackphone but it will be secure enough to fool well funded adversaries.