Blackphone: Staying off the Grid

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Mark James, ESET security specialist, looks at the “Blackphone”. Specifically whether it’s the right way to go about protecting your data and what it says about the state of data handling.

Silent Circle released the Blackphone in June 2014. Jon Callas, co-founder of Silent Circle, says that they expected it was “going to be a niche, but it’s a larger niche every day”, and that it’s been selling “very well”.

The Blackphone offers encrypted for calls and texts, as well as extra protection when browsing the web.

The phone runs on a modified version of Android, offering “social media apps which can’t get to your contacts” and games “which can’t get to your network”, Callas informs us.

The Niche

“With the flurry of hacked websites and companies we have seen recently it’s no surprise that a device is available to limit access to your personal data”, says Mark James.

It’s an obvious knee jerk reaction to the huge number of data breaches that Mark mentioned above. I think it serves as a fantastic example of what people want to do with their personal data.

Is it the right way to protect your data in the long run?

The Future of Privacy

“I don’t think so, the best way by far is for companies and app developers to come up with a plan to limit access to the data on a larger scale,” says Mark.

“We need to see options to opt out of the many features that apps state are the reasons they need to access our contacts, photos or Wi-Fi connection, with the option to say NO.”

It very much plays into the same privacy issues that we discussed in our Smart Cities and Personal Data blog posts.

“A much wider approach will help everyone not just the few who seek out to use these devices”. Mark reminds us that “if someone seriously wants access to your phone information they will get it”.