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Blackphone (blackphone.ch)
408 points by jorrizza on Jan 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 204 comments



The privacy issue in smartphones isn't the freaking application processor running Android. Sure, that ones terrible enough.

But the actual problem is the baseband processor running completely non-free software, with an enormous attack surface and access to all the interesting periphery (GPS, microphone). There is not just opportunity to compromise your privacy, Qualcomm and others actively implement such features at the behest of governments and carriers.

Oh, and if you plug that enormous hole, you get to the SIM card, yet another processor that you have zero control over, but which has access to enough juicy data to compromise your privacy. I highly recommend everyone to watch a talk from 30C3 by Karsten Nohl, where he shows a live attack on an improperly configured SIM card that remotely implants a Java app on the SIM card which continuously sends your cell ID (your approximate location) to the attacker by short message (without notification to the application processor, e.g. Android or iOS):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B7XyVWgoxg

Carriers can do this today. (edit: that's a bit nonsensical, because carriers of course already know your cell id. Anyone with the ability to run a fake basestation momentarily (think IMSI catcher) can do this.)


Absolutely correct. This is why such a device should isolate the hardware components used for communication from the main CPU/device, consider the former "hostile" and communicate with them using a simple, safe interface (like USB or serial). Using a throwaway external 3G/LTE adapter (USB) would be even better. This way, a compromised baseband processor or SIM card cannot access the host's memory (using DMA like in current smartphones) and as long as the host uses secure encryption, it can still communicate securely (but of course the device will be detected and identified).


I think this is essentially what N900 did. The GSM part was handled as an external modem so that people would be free to have root on the rest of the device.

http://flors.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/software-freedom-lover...


The solution is for your phone to not be a phone. Strip out the baseband entirely, use usb or wifi to a 4G LTE dongle, do VoIP. Extra benefit that you can explicitly know when you're radiating (and thus being location-tracked).

Blackphone is pretty lame, IMO. There's something better coming from a trusted source in weeks, and plenty of work being done on the "there is no phone" phone concept.


"Strip out the baseband" of a dongle and you won't have a device that can connect to the network, authenticate, shift cells or anything else. It's like stripping the firmware off your disk drive.

Fully support the initiative for an open baseband. One reason it's not open is the (fairly legit) fear that intentional and unintentional DoS attacks would occur, affecting everyone in the area. It's really really simple to be an obnoxious cellular network citizen and it's pretty damn hard to police.

Baseband bugs that impact networks are common too due to the complexity. I saw a function point analysis of GSM vs 3G once, seem to remember 1-2 orders of magnitudes difference. Ahh Function Points, you flawed devil of a management metric.


The idea is that your "high side" device is a phone, with all your apps, etc. It communicates over a well defined interface (USB seems like the best, but bt or wifi could be adequate given certain considerations) to a fully-functional mifi dongle or whatever which does normal cell/public-wifi/etc. functionality. No compromise of the external cell modem can get at high side data. The current "baseband can DMA your main device" is absurd; security processors (only on iOS and BB and maybe WP, really) help a little, but not enough.

Yes, it is two small boxes right now, but there's no reason you couldn't build a "baseband firewall" which puts baseband in one area, a firewall in between, and the regular phone, with only a well defined open interface in between.


Snapdragon and every other baseband coming out has them on an 'all in one' chip which is application CPU and baseband sharing direct memory. Unless you have a microscope you can't build a hw firewall.

Cryptophone uses an older Samsung to do this but has no SIM protection. The firewall isn't foolproof either it only detects extended use of the baseband cpu without the application cpu being busy then shuts down the device, which makes it a brick open to denial of service.

A hardened Android build is fine for most shady activity and avoiding dragnet surveillance. If you are a drug lord or foreign spy use a laptop or tablet with ostel or silent circle, internal mic removed and running hardened free software, your dongle should have TurboSIM or similar wrapper that can be coded to reject OTA updates and not reply to silent tracking SMS. Marlinespike is also working on a new Whispercore, I have a forensics resistant project, and there is of course Cryptophone GSMK. Is the project you're talking about the build that runs Xen then boots Android in phony isolation because the snapdragon chip can still access memory.

Another problem is simply walking around with 2 phones which is an opsec indicator for feds that you are up to something and req targeted surveillance. They have full automated access to every cell tower db to look for this as per snowden docs dumped on cell meta data


The idea is you don't use baseband functionality at all in the main high-side device. It can be a PDA, connected over USB to a separate radio. There's no way the radio can do anything particularly evil except if there are implementation bugs over USB (API problems with whatever interface you build between them, most likely), but at least that can be inspected by end users and problems found/fixed.

These highly-integrated devices are basically inimical to decent security.

No (that project was an earlier version of blackphone/geekphone, actually! from what I've heard)


I believe you have the right idea. To isolate audio/message encryption in one box, stream it via IP to cellular (LTE/4G/etc) towers in another box. Then, the customer puts those two boxes into one box.

It could basically be done today with an Android PDA running VoiP app only, connected over wifi to a cellular hotspot in one's pocket. The next evolution would be to replace the wifi with a wired network.


I'm probably going to submit this + some specific privacy/location/etc. protecting services as a turnkey thing to DC/BH 2014. Also looking at a kickstarter for something on the "travel router which isn't a complete piece of crap" front.


I'm curious what you'd like to see in a travel router. Is it mainly the software or hardware you think needs work, or both?

On the software front, I have an OpenWRT image which I think works pretty well for travel which I've been meaning to publish (routes all traffic over an OpenVPN tunnel and can act simultaneously as a WIFI client to the hotel network and as an access point for your own network). The hardware is nothing special (WRT54GL) and it would definitely be nice if it were more portable. I'd love to hear your thoughts and will be looking forward to that kickstarter.


Hardware. USB powered. Dual radio, ideally dual dual band (so 4 radios which can be 1-4 in use). Ethernet port. Probably a USB port for 4g. Ideally a good form factor. Probably no battery, use a USB battery or laptop.

My goal would be to never ever connect my devices to wifi, and run everything through the device.

There are lots of attempts to make current hw work for this, but while you can get close, nothing is good enough IMO. I have the tplink, the belkin, etc with different firmware.

Enough flash and ram to run sane openwrt, and maybe options for a VPN client, and a stretch of Tor. Fitting that within the power budget would be the issue.


Thanks.

Yes, it sounds like it will be challenging to fit everything in the power budget. Do you think there's a need to use this on battery power? Won't most people be using it in a hotel room? A wall wart that's compact and dual-voltage would work for me and would provide much more power than USB.

I'll also put in a pitch for at least two Ethernet ports, so you can use one for connecting to the hotel and another for your LAN, in case WIFI's not cutting it or you need to connect a non-WIFI device (in my case, a VoIP phone).

One usability problem which has vexed me is that most hotels force you through a captive portal, which doesn't work if you're routing all traffic over a VPN. (Some even make you do it every 24 hours!) My latest solution is a special Ethernet port that's on a separate subnet which isn't routed over the VPN. You use that for going through the captive portal and then you switch over to WIFI or another Ethernet port. I think a hardware switch to turn the VPN on and off would also be a good solution.


Yeah, a hardware switch for VPN/non-VPN. Two ether might make as much sense as one, and it gives you a lot of flexibility. Ultimately I'd like to see something better than dumb captive portals, too, so some kind of partnership with the roaming wifi pass providers might make sense.

For the power budget, I really want to be able to use this powered by my laptop's USB port (or a big usb battery) so when I'm at an airport or something I can safely use wifi without having to find a power socket. One option is using more power than USB, and having a battery which is charged via USB, but that would suck.

I believe everything except Tor can fit within the power budget, even with 2 normal and 2 lower power radios, though.


There are also software features missing on current devices, especially in stock firmware. A really good firewall, VPN client, and other security tools would be nice. Central enterprise management and/or managed service as an option would also be wonderful. My main goal is execs who travel to China regularly.


For a portable firewall/router, I use a cubieboard running OpenBSD. It has a USB to DC cable that powers the device (no hdd attached) and runs LTE sticks fine. Costs $50 and runs a complete install to run Tor or whatever you want. Right now I have it running pf filtered VLANs to segregate devices, an authenticated AES wireless hotspot and Jondonym mix, which I tunnel all traffic through including Tor and i2p traffic. That way the local wireless carrier who you're using doesn't see any tor traffic.


The problem with doing wifi weird bridge mode where you are on both networks leads to performance issues on busy networks because you are necessarily on the same channels.

It might be worth giving that up since then existing hardware is usable.


Yeah, it's definitely suboptimal but it seems to work. If it's easy to have a second radio then you should probably have one. On the other hand, urban areas are usually so saturated with access points that using a separate channel might not gain you much.


Have you talked to The Grugq about this? Sounds like a beefed up version of PORTAL: https://github.com/grugq/portal


Yes, I talk to The Grugq a lot, although our relationship does not involve bonds of affection and/or personal obligation, and/or where the I and the foreign national share private time together in a public or private setting where sensitive professional and personal information is discussed or is the target of discussion.

But yeah. Grugq's doing a lot of other cool stuff now too.


I just tried this with a Huawei E1762 (casing removed) and a stripped down dongle. Crammed them both into the back of a Nexus and attached it using the case I have for a Seidio Innocell 3800mAh battery extention.

Activated airplane mode to kill the baseband, PPP widget runs fine on 4.2.2. Success. (kernel module loading not avail Android 4.3+ though obviously can build your own, or get a Moto G with native USB OTG support)


> Another problem is simply walking around with 2 phones which is an opsec indicator for feds that you are up to something and req targeted surveillance. They have full automated access to every cell tower db to look for this as per snowden docs dumped on cell meta data

Do you happen to have a link? That's pretty terrible for anyone with a work phone and a personal phone.


"Another problem is simply walking around with 2 phones which is an opsec indicator for feds that you are up to something and req targeted surveillance. They have full automated access to every cell tower db to look for this as per snowden docs dumped on cell meta data"

They, the feds, must be surveilling an awful lot of ordinary citizens because in my day job, delivery driver, I carry two phones. One issued by my company and my personal phone and on days when I'm working with another driver we'd have four phones in one vehicle. I can imagine there are quite a few people who have good reason to carry two phones regularly.


How can having two phones be an indicator that you are up to something? It is extremely common for working professionals to have both a personal mobile and a company mobile these days.


They do really complex analysis of patterns of how phones move, how they're powered up, call history, etc. It's actually really fascinating if you think about it and dig into it a bit, just like being able to largely identify (and sometimes effectively decipher) network traffic through analysis of encrypted message flows.

Just carrying two phones with you isn't the most interesting thing; it's a pair of people who normally have one phone during normal activity, and then at some location turn that phone off and turn on another phone which isn't used for anything except calling the other person briefly and hanging up without saying anything, and then those phones moving closely together, etc.

In my proposed case, there's no actual "second phone" on the cellphone network; your "phone" is a wifi only device which talks to a box which talks over data.

Traffic analysis is one of the things NSA does exceptionally well; the open crypto world is like 5 and maybe NSA is 7, but the open traffic analysis world is more like 2 and NSA is a 9.


Fully support the initiative for an open baseband.

I would love to live in a world where this can happen. But we don't live in that world.

The carriers have paid billions of dollars for exclusive use of their frequency bands. And their hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue depend upon smooth operation of all devices on the network using those bands. They will use whatever means to protect this.

OK, so let's talk to the FCC (and all the other agencies around the world), and get some other frequency band we can use for our totally open phones.

Well... there aren't any open ones left in the good range of approximately 700MHz to 2GHz. This is the part of the frequency spectrum that has decent carrying capacity, good penetration, and not too high power requirements. It is basic physics. Go lower in frequency, and you can't carry enough bits to be useful. Go higher in frequency and you start getting stopped by walls and such.

All the good bands have been allocated in the USA and elsewhere for TV, existing carriers, military, satellite, and so on. At a minimum, you'd need tens of billions to lobby for and buy a decent chunk of spectrum. And you need to get the current users moved off, which they won't like.

All we have left are the 'crap' bands like 2.4GHz (microwave oven interference). 5GHz isn't too bad (not a lot of other interferers) but it is short range with the current regulations. Another open band for unlicensed use at 60GHz gets stopped by walls, air (oxygen)...


I don't understand. If I come to a carrier and say "Here's a codebase for your baseband. It's OSS, well tested, secure, and supported. Buy support from me." why won't they go for it. Surely, an OSS solution is cheaper for them than developing an in-house crap solution that I'm sure it is now.

Also, is there any harm in just open sourcing their baseband code? It seems to me that it's worthless without the license to use the frequency anyways, so who cares if the code is open from a losing business point of view. On the other hand, things like security review are to the carriers' and manufacturers' benefit, no?


If I come to a carrier and say "Here's a codebase for your baseband.

The carriers don't want baseband code, they just want finished products to sell.

It's OSS, well tested, secure, and supported. Buy support from me." why won't they go for it. Surely, an OSS solution is cheaper for them than developing an in-house crap solution that I'm sure it is now.

OK, assuming you get a current-generation baseband chip for free (it actually costs a ton of money to develop) with full documentation, you're still talking hundreds of millions to develop that software. GSM (a 2G technology) is complicated. UMTS / HSPA (one of the 3G techs) is an order of magnitude more complex. LTE (4G) is another order of magnitude more complex than 3G. The baseband code, plus all the testing code, plus all the testing required by the FCC, standards bodies and the carriers is a ton of money.

It costs millions to take an existing chipset (which has already been approved), an existing baseband codebase (which has also already been approved for use with that chipset) and put that into a modem and get that approved.

The chip vendors have their own baseband code now, and they are all in fierce competition with each other. They aren't going to just use your code, and they aren't going to let you use their chips either.


OK, thanks for the explanation. So it sounds like this comes down to vendors competing and not wanting to have their code exposed for fear that others might copy their chip + code when the vender is the one paying all the fees to make the chip + code usable. I guess this is similar to Nvidia vs AMD (vs Intel I suppose), except perhaps even more entrenched and without much hope of a community reverse engineering a solution.

This sucks. Do we have any alternatives? Are there any completely open radio chips in development?


> except perhaps even more entrenched

By a lot. On the plus side, all the specs to create a component in a cellular network(protocols, procedures, network architecture and so on). are open and free.

On the other hand, the specs that cover all the parts of a cellular system is _many_ thousands of documents - and there's patents hidden in quite a lot of them.

> without much hope of a community reverse engineering a solution.

* specs for the chipsets are not available.

* You might get the spec. for the pinouts for the chips if you sign an NDA, but not the specs for being able to run your own code on it.

* But the chipset manufacturers won't talk to you unless you're serious about buying quite a few million of them anyway.

http://bb.osmocom.org/ have managed to reverse engineer an old GSM chipset (with help from leaked documents and source code) and created an open source GSM base band for those old phones. But there's little to suggest doing the same for 3G or 4G will be possible in the near future.


So it sounds like this comes down to vendors competing [...] I guess this is similar to Nvidia vs AMD (vs Intel I suppose) [...]

Yes, exactly. Sometimes just seeing how something is organized, or the API can give significant clues to how it is done. It is much harder to start from scratch.

Do we have any alternatives? Are there any completely open radio chips in development?

See my parent post. First you need a few billion dollars to buy some spectrum.


> See my parent post. First you need a few billion dollars to buy some spectrum.

So that's the tragedy of the mobile computing revolution isn't it then? That communication tech is technically a free market but realistically is controlled by very few corporations with very deep pockets. I did not realize that this is how it was set up and now I am sad.


Are you aware of Fabrice Bellard's 4G LTE software base station?

http://bellard.org/lte/


I was not aware of this. It is not open-source though, and it is really just for research purposes.

Its actually quite impressive how much they've implemented, though it is still a small fraction of the software you'd need to run an actual cell network.


It's not just for research purposes, as it's sold by Amarisoft as Amari LTE 100:

http://www.amarisoft.com/?p=amarilte

It's also not "they", as it's been developed by a single programmer. Certainly, Bellard is no ordinary programmer, but this should still give some perspective to your claim of the millions of dollars required for development.


If it's OSS, then users are empowered to modify the code for their own purposes in ways that degrade or deny service to others.

Code could be released for inspection, but you can't be allowed to actually run modified code on real radios outside of RF-isolated testing facilities.


Ironically, the market seems to be not optimizing for optimal net revenue (income minus costs, where here you're minimizing costs), but for control. This is partly because of the control freak nature of these companies, partly because the government demands it, but also, again ironically, because of long term thinking: if these companies can lock people out and control them, that helps to guarantee future profits. The free market can sometimes be a cruel bitch bent on the end-user's oppression.


Sounds more like the market is stuck at a local profit maximum instead of a global profit maximum. As in, they think they are making as much profit as they can, but in reality if they invested more into something that's not directly consumer facing they'd be end up making more money in the long run. Except this long term thinking is less appealing than the status quo so they just stick with what they know.


I think theres a misunderstanding here. Nobody wants to buy the actual frequency spectrum or compete with carriers; we just want to control the software and processor that does the GSM, 3G and LTE communication, on whatever frequency.

(That is not to say carriers won't do everything in their power to stop actual open source software and hardware implementations; mobile only works because all the devices behave nicely according to the specification, an attacker could with very little power severely compromise the network. There is just a very large barrier to entry, and dumb, bruteforce solutions can be triangulated.)


> Fully support the initiative for an open baseband.

How do you ensure that the manufacturer doesn't modify the baseband code?


> There's something better coming from a trusted source in weeks...

Could you provide more concrete info on what you are referencing there?


Sorry, no -- it's not my product to announce. By way of validation, it's something I'm planning to use personally, even though it doesn't go as far as I'd ultimately like, until something better exists (which I might be involved in; unclear if client devices are the right focus since end users are so picky about non-security aspects of them, and for me, iOS is generally good against non-NSA threats, and NSA isn't my personal adversary.)


>There's something better

Is this IndiePhone by Aral Balkan?


I've never heard of this project or person, but it looks interesting too.


Except nobody wants to carry a dongle around in their pocket. Your security measure is useless if it's too much hassle to use day-to-day because most of the time (closing in on 100%) it does not matter.


I carry a SIM card around...


Do tell, what's coming in a few weeks?


Hmm, I'd say the real privacy issue is the user who installs and runs all those Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. apps and freely shares his private information with everyone.

You can't really prevent that with technology unless you start to educate kids/users better. But who am I kidding? People will forfeit their private data for shiny stuff as long as there will be shiny stuff and private data.


There are two different connotations of 'privacy' that are often conflated in discussions about Facebook, Google, etc. Conflating them probably obscures the more important connotation to the benefit of such companies' bottom lines.

The first connotation is the one my mother warned me about. It's Facebook photos of that tequila weekend in Tijuana and those two PM Tuesday tweets from the beach bar when I called in sick to work. These are things that require personal judgement in regard to what I say. Self-control addresses this type of privacy.

The second connotation of privacy is newer, but still nearly twenty years old. It entails concerns regarding information collected about my actions beyond what I explicitly choose to broadcast. It's cookies in the browser [and their more sophisticated descendants]. It's my browser linking my Google+ account to my browsing history at lesbiandwarffurries.com.

Privacy issues of this second type are assumed to be normal when they are considered at all - why doesn't my browser sandbox cookies for each website? Or rather why isn't there a browser that does so? The same logic underpins the Blackphone - sand boxing unrelated parts of the system so that privacy is a matter of personal judgement rather a battle against a technically sophisticated adversary.


> why doesn't my browser sandbox cookies for each website?

You can do that with Fluid.app (http://fluidapp.com/ only for MacOSX) It is a Single-Site-Browser-Generator with the option to have a separate cookie store for each SSB.

I have one instance for facebook, one for Google+ etc.


You can disable third-party cookies (I do so), and watch how many websites cease to function.


I've been running Firefox with Ghostery and NoScript for about four years. I know the consequences.

I only access Facebook from a VM or an old smartphone with no SIM. That's because browsers are designed to circumvent my attempts at privacy and to facilitate the ends of third party cookies.

Using a Git analogy, there is no reason for a single cookie repository. Suppose foo.com injects a third party cookie from bar.com into my data stream. It could sit on the foo.com branch of my cache, so that when I visit baz.com, it does not know about the bar.com cookie, and injects another one [which sits on the baz.com branch of my cache].

When I want to have a single bar.com cookie for foo.com and baz.com, then I merge them and let bar.com sort out any discrepancy. To put it another way, there might be a few websites where I wish to allow a shared persistent Facebook cookie, but I don't want to share that information with every website with a LikeUsOnFacebook widget or share all my browsing with Facebook.

But browsers thwart that process and facilitate tracking. It is by explicit design that browsers break the web when there are attempts at privacy. They are designed to mislead users and be truthful to remote websites rather than vice-versa.

The


No. The problem is not the common user who just follows common hardware and software. The problem is common hardware and software, which put security last.


That hardware and software are being selected by users. Unless you become the government, your "solutions" will be less preferred and will die. At best you can sell luxury products to paranoid, Howard Hughes types.


And Opt-Ins first.


Came here to say this exactly. The world needs an open-source baseband processor/firmware.


Osmocom baseband tried this. Works on older motorola phones, then just buy a turbosim with encrypted voice, sms and code your own OTA blocking. Or use a small tablet with no sim using wifi


> But the actual problem is the baseband processor running completely non-free software

True, and once that one will be made open-source too, there's still the NSA tracking mobile phones worldwide and generating all kinds of privacy-invading data based on it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-tr...

(And until that is resolved, my mobile phone will stay in flight mode only.)

So once again, while tech may help in the short term, long-term solutions will have to be structural/systemic ones regarding government in general.


> once that one will be made open-source too

The point made elsewhere in this thread is that even an open-source implementation can be exploited. If the baseband is tightly integrated, then that exploit gains the attacker full access.

From a security perspective, even a closed-source baseband could be ok as if it has proper separation from the rest of the system (though open-source would obviously be better).


by looking at the video I know some of the people in Spain who are involved. They are in Bilbao. We did a consulting project with them in 2009. They are more in the creative educational industry.

I am not sure about the technology, however from look of the video I can say it is mostly aim at non-technology experts, with nice fancy design.

Can I ask what kind of people do we need to design all the chips hardware such as baseband processor, using open source design?

And what are HN opinion on Silent Circle?


Silent Circle is for business use to avoid industrial espionage. If you are an activist or suspected criminal I would imagine they would cooperate with any court order to feed you a malicious update that allows federal access just like Hushmail does. They swear up and down this is impossible but it's a for profit business they arent going to risk it protecting whistleblowers, wanted hackers or enviro activists. Redphone at least you can build it yourself and prevent targeted updates


I totally agree that adding privacy features to what is essentially a tracking device isn't addressing the right issues. Why not start out with simply a free, private laptop? Something that uses Coreboot and doesn't require any firmware driver blobs. This is something that so far, only one Chinese company has been able to do, albeit producing only a rather underpowered model [1]. Where are the private laptops that rival the Macbook Pro?

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemote#Netbook_computers


You appear to have missed the article by the free software foundation where they approved another, fully free computer.

See: http://shop.gluglug.org.uk/


Yes, the other OS is way worse. "You can even brick phones permanently" --http://www.osnews.com/story/27416/The_second_operating_syste... which was on hn recently.


the sub-OS was my immediate thought when I saw it is an android device.


Completely useless web page. All wooly 'feel-good' words and no hard, concrete information. So I guess we just have to take it on trust then?

Also, their privacy policy is laughable:

We turn the logging level on our systems to log only protocol-related errors - great!

the pages on our main web site pull in javascript files from a third party. This allows our web developers and salespeople to know which pages are being looked at - so instead of keeping your own logs, you are outsourcing this to a 3rd party with worse privacy policies, and who can now aggregate your website usage with other sites.

Why didn't they just keep logging on and get rid of the 3rd party bugs?


Well, Silent Circle is based in Washington DC, so even if they were keeping logs themselves, it wouldn't be much of a privacy reassurance...


This web page is clearly marketing page not technology information page. They simply try to gather information if there is interest/demand for something like this. LEAN startup :-)


"Blackphone is re-shaping the landscape of personal communications. Pre-ordering begins..."

How is it re-shaping anything before it's started shipping?


"Pre-ordering begins..." is letting folks their idea validating strategy. I wonder what the threshold is going to be, 100, 500, 1000 or more pre-ordered phones.


It also helps to build a list of people who have something to hide ;-)


Come on, this can't be the first time you've encountered shitty marketing lingo.


They should have s/re-shaping/disrupting/g if/when the referrer is HN.


Do you even marketing, somewhat obtuse bro?


Expecting people to write their own metrics stack for a promo site is a bit OTT - there are a lot of good analytics stacks out there which let you get up and running very quickly, complete with dashboards, metrics, etc.


You don't need to write your own, just self-host it: http://piwik.org/


I'd really like a phone that had the following features:

* physical switches for GPS, WIFI, Radio, Camera, Mic, write/read access to disk (go diskless),

* a secondary low power eInk display that is wired directly into the hardware that shows when the last time GPS, mic, camera were turned on (and for how long) and how much data has been sent over the radio and read from disk,

* a FS which encrypts certain files with a key that is stored remotely. If your phone is stolen you can delete this remote key. The key is changed on every decrypt. You also get a remote log of all times this remote key was accessed.

* hardware support for read-only, write-only files,

* hardware support for real secure delete on the SSD,

* the ability to change all my HW identifiers at will (IMEI, SIM, etc),

* a log, stored on a separate SD card, of all data sent and received using a HW tap on the radio/WIFI. The log should be encrypted such that only someone with the private key can read it (public key used to encrypt an AES session key which is rotated out every 5 minutes). If you think someone has compromised your phone you can audit this log for both exploitation and data exfiltration. Since the log is implemented in HW, no rootkit can alter it.


Well, this is just a splash page and says very little.

It's in partnerships with http://www.geeksphone.com/ which is FirefoxOS based. But yet the Blackphone splash has an image of a phone with Android buttons.

They claim no hooks to vendors, so if it's Android I can't imagine this is going to carry the Play store.

I'd be interested in knowing how they will secure and make private the core functionality of being a phone and sending email and text, all of which are insecure.

On that, I'd speculate that this is just pre-loaded with Silent Circle apps, and maybe will be announced as having DarkMail and a choice of RedPhone.

But... there's no info at all really, so who knows what this is.

The only problem they really have to solve is the eternal question of: Is it possible to provide real security and privacy whilst providing convenience?


From the video: "PrivatOS is the Android you are familiar with"


Text- in a similar way TextSecure did it, would be my guess. They have something called Silent Text, and they're using the ideas here I believe:

http://eprint.iacr.org/2014/036.pdf

Email? They've announced the DarkMail protocol last year, and should be coming soon:

http://darkmail.info/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgV_Z6V_llk


Geeksphone actually made Android phones originally.


As others have pointed out, the baseband is not your friend. Was thinking about this recently, and saw no reason why existing POCSAG (pager) networks couldn't be reused to provide a completely passive receiver. Imagine a phone where the baseband was off by default, unless attempting to make a call. Voicemail/e-mail summaries were broadcast encrypted via POCSAG, and generate notifications just like a new mail summary coming in via GPRS/3G would.

Obviously usability would suffer a little bit (mostly in huge latency when you actually wanted to make a call), but seems like very cheap phone could be built that integrated a pager, allowing complete disconnection from the 'active' radio network, avoiding location tracking by your cell provider, or similar evil tricks by third parties.


> " Imagine a phone where the baseband was off by default, unless attempting to make a call."

Except if everyone started using a phone like that, you wouldn't be able to call anyone.


You'd page them first!


I'd imagine the POCSAG network would be quite overloaded, quite quickly. It doesn't have a lot of bandwidth, and unless the network knows where you are, messages destined to you would have to be broadcast everywhere.


Secure? They're rewriting the baseband, then? Color me skeptical.



+1, the phone won't really be private if they won't deploy a new baseband chip that allows for this privacy (and is open-source, so that we could check it).


I agree with the fact that the website is still a little bit unspecific but this project is backed by Phil Zimmermann, he was the creator of PGP, it doesn't guarantee anything but it definitely means some smart people who are worried about privacy are behind it.


Android having the most granular permission system ever seen on any operating system is already the most secure operating system.

The biggest security hole next to the baseband processor and the SIM is the user who installs every app in seconds without checking permissions.


Not even remotely granular. Install XPrivacy[1] (which is still not granular enough for me, as it lacks filtering over function arguments) and see that categories are very broad.

[1]: https://github.com/M66B/XPrivacy#xprivacy


Argument-level filtering would be awesome, but I don't know, the existing app+function level filtering seems to be working fine for me so far. The only real complaint I have with xprivacy now is the atrocious UI, and I'd really like some way for it to automatically fetch filters from somewhere so I don't have to bother with the permissions every time an app updates.


Not really, iOS permissions are more granular sometimes - iOS will ask you before an app accesses your phonebook, and you can deny the access. You can't do that with Android.


> iOS permissions are more granular sometimes

Not true, http://developer.android.com/reference/android/Manifest.perm...


Android permissions are all or none at install time. iOS allows permissions to be individually toggled at any time. Some people define flexibility differently.


I can revoke permissions on any Android app with App Settings[1].

[1] https://mediacru.sh/DRUrAHvxdlfS


In which Android versions? Cyanogenmod supports this functionality, but most stock builds don't, up through the most recent Kitkat releases.

(The first shipped Kitkat builds supported a form of this, but it was quickly removed, amidst complaints from privacy advocates:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/12/google-removes-vital-p...

So, there are a few shipped phones which can have this functionality made accessible via third party app --- but update your phone and they cease to work.)


For what it's worth, if I can't do it on a phone that I walked out of Verizon with and didn't touch again, then I consider it can't-do. Custom ROMs aren't mainstream enough yet to count (despite how awesome Cyanogenmod is), and as you correctly pointed out, Android removed it from KitKat. So, until Android natively supports it in a release, it doesn't exist.


https://www.blackphone.ch/hello-world/

I'm sure there's logic there - powering a very basic non-informative landing site with a WP installation that you took the time to customize, but not delete the default post and comment from...

But it certainly doesn't give me warm fuzzy feelings about the people behind this.


I don't really feel like a slave, maybe I am under reacting here. I am pissed the NSA is collecting data, I am upset at all the recent revelations we have had about data privacy in the last 6-8 months, but I certainly don't feel like a slave.

These products should be advertised on theblaze and infowares.

Sure there is a need for better privacy, but I don't really care for the fearmongering...


I'm weird enough to be interested in these kind of things, but the whole site is really .. just fluff. Ignoring that and focusing on the sparse details of the actual thing:

- High-End Android device

- Privacy features in the (custom) Android version

- "Secure communication builtin"

Again, I like the idea. But so far the details match CyanogenMod (with TextSecure for SMS, maybe XPrivacy on top)?


Yes, looks like an Android powered device. So, at the end is just another OS right?

One of the big drawbacks when I first started my nexus5 was that I was being spyed. Why the hell do I need a gmail account to get started?!

I wonder if it would be possible to install this Android flavour in a Nexus device ?


You don't actually need a gmail account for what its worth - Google just makes it difficult. On the screen where it requests a login you (seriously) need to tap each corner of the screen in clockwise order starting from the top left. That should skip the step.


That's useful, and user-hostile. On iOS you can just tap "Skip this step" if you don't want to use an Apple account with it.


Yet you need an Apple account to download anything from the App Store or iTunes... An iPhone without apps is barely useful.


Unless someone forks it, and builds support for your phone's drivers in it - then it's not possible.


How does this protect me from my carrier? No matter which phone I use they still need to record who I call for "billing purposes" and know which cell is closest to route my calls.


1) Buy prepaid card with data plan.

2) Access Internet (and VOIP) only via VPN or better yet TOR.

3) Only give out your VOIP number. No one must know your direct number, it’s only for emergencies.

This severs all the important connections to make any use of that data, assuming you don’t have any leaks.


To expand on this, does anyone know of a reliable service provider (accepting bitcoins is a bonus) for SIP Trunking[0]? Or any VoIP workflow that can perform calls to PSTN[1] (the regular landline/mobile telephone network). Or even any VoIP provider that offers a basic answering service, where the voice mail box can be checked over the internet a la google voice/skype voicemail?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIP_Trunking

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pstn

Edit: A quick search gave me this[2] by Plivo. Does any one know of any other options?

[2] http://plivo.com/blog/sip-trunking-to-replace-my-landline-ph...


Don’t have any recommendations here, just thought I’d mention that for the stated purpose—​preventing the tracking of the cellphone location (i.e. where you go)—​running your own VoIP to PSTN/​ISDN/​GSM bridge at home would be sufficient.

Completely anonymous hosted PSTN bridge would be very open to abuse, so I imagine not many of them are/will remain accessible via Tor. But for completely secure and/or anonymous communication you don’t need or want PSTN, all you need is (encrypted) VoIP–VoIP that you control, and can optionally expose via Tor (as a hidden service).

Bonus points: GSM bridge at home raises less flags. You could even “take it for a walk” from time to time to make it appear even less suspicious.


build your own ostel or asterisk server, I think asterisk does voicemail.


You could use p2p VoIP.


Not in Germany, where opening your WIFI makes you liable for all the things that might happen with this.

But only if you are a private person (or a small cafe/venue). If you are an ISP, you can operate hotspots wherever you want and charge whatever anyone is willing to pay. And you do not need to fear being held liable for your users actions.

[Edit] Meant to say, that since this change of law we do not have a lot of open WIFI-Spots anymore.


They could still track you though. You'll need a sim card, and you'll need to attach to the network - which means the carrier can track your location.


No mention of the thing being completely open sourced - or did I overlook something? If not, seems like something they should mention (I am assuming it IS open source?)...


Good point.


Anyone thinking of making a video to sell a privacy product to mass consumers should probably stay away from creepy music and women walking around in all black hoods. Instead go for soccer moms buying stuff with her credit card or librarians doing research for a school kid. Let's not make secure/private communications something weird and creepy but something normal that everyone does.


A site peddling a product that is supposedly about user control and privacy that won't even load without javascript...

The irony is almost too much.


Why? Check out the page source, everything is un-obfuscated, there for you to see.


Mozilla could take great strides towards this type of phone if they cared. Integrate tor, Whisper Systems RedPhone and SercureText, HTML tracking disabled, etc. I'm surprised their Firefox OS looks and works so much like every other phone out there.


Mozilla would have an awful lot of security work to do. If you check the CVEs for Firefox, there was, on average, a remote code execution vulnerability each week in the last 3 months.

http://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/search-results?query=firef...


They have to do that work anyway due to Firefox OS.


I would hate to say this, but people here and there, are cashing in NSA fiasco. I would have loved it more, if this was more focused on 'features' than playing with people's emotions. this is valid for everything currently cashing-in NSA issue.

As for, NSA spying how exactly can this phone ensure 100% secrecy. Given a user would have to use the same apps, and above all, the carrier that other smartphone users use.

Point is, US Govt is hellbent on spying on you. And they will no matter what. Either change the US Govt, or suck it up. Nothing else is gonna work.


The only thing missing in the video is Julian Assange as the narrator ;-)

Basically, this seems like a lifestyle device for pseudo-"hacktivists". And I expect people to install WhatsApp and Facebook on it. There was this article a few days ago: "When I was young there were beatniks. Hippies. Punks. Gangsters. Now you're a hacktivist. Which I would probably be if I was 20. Shuttin' down MasterCard. But there's no look to that lifestyle! Besides just wearing a bad outfit with bad posture. Has WikiLeaks caused a look? No! I'm mad about that."

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230463640...


So hows that "change the US govt" (or any other world gov) going so far since the leaks?

I called bullshit from the beginning that anything will change politically, and now six months later I'm more certain nothing is going to change at the political level. They've dug in their heels for the long ride.

The only positive developments has been private companies like Google encrypting their data centers and privacy software finally finding an audience. But at the same time, not even the most die-hard cypherpunks think you can achieve 100% secrecy from a dedicated adversary. But that's not the primary goal. Countering mass-surveillance is.


It's true that you can't have privacy or security in the mass-market apps or in voice or sms over big commercial carriers. However, if a device solved the problems indicated by (username) revelation and following posts on this page, you could then run secure applications - e.g. something with public-key encryption and PFS for the data, and a p2p or tor-style network to obscure the metadata.

It still wouldn't be perfect, but would succeed in many scenarios and would greatly increase adversary costs.


The NSA is only one fear - there are other actors you'd expect to be doing similar things. e.g. Chinese, mafia.

Using things like Blackphone can potentially increase the cost of anyone doing this kind of spying, to vastly reduce who will do it for what reasons.

This talk by Dymaxion is good on economics and usability of this stuff: http://dymaxion.org/talks/EaPitLW.html


Geeksphone is doing pretty impressive for a startup that they were launch partners for Firefox OS and now have roped in PGP founders for this project.

Were they successful in delivering on the Firefox phones?, Their website always says 'out of stock'. Blackphone seems to be ambitious too. Is it possible for a startup to sail these two boats?

Also I find it odd that the PR is always just before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) which happens in Spain, last year with Firefox OS and this year with Blackphone


I like Mike Janke and all, he's a nice guy. But, he has backed out of RSAC '14 yet [1]? I find it a tough sell to call yourself a privacy advocate and legitimize and fund RSA by speaking at their conference. It also doesn't help Blackphone's cause.

1. http://www.rsaconference.com/speakers/mike-janke


True privacy on a smartphone can only be expected when software and hardware are 100% open sourced. This of course includes the source code for the 3 Os's that typically run on a smartphone. Anything that's running server-side cannot be trusted either. So we need client-side encryption/decryption as well.


To even have the theoretical possibility of "privacy & security", both software and hardware must be fully open. And then there must be some way to check that the hardware and software you got in that box is actually the hardware from the spec, without extra chips. Those are pretty hard to accomplish.


With all the respect what they have done so far, I can't see any reason why this is securer than the other mobile phones..

With the latest NSA stuff, I came to conclusion that a true secure system can only be built under these conditions and just to put it out there, this is just my opinion;

- A computer company that manufactures their own hardware such as hard drive, ram, cables, network cards.

- An OS that is newly written and not based on any other existing operating systems.

- Building the whole system with INDEPENDENT hardware and software mentioned above.

- Keeping the mobile device's source code offline from Internet as much as possible

These are just the first steps on developing a secure system, then comes the mobile network architecture and encryption etc.

I admit, it is not an easy job but, trying to develop a secure system with "not secure" development tools is not the right way to go :)


You're probably right about what's involved in building a truly secure smartphone from scratch that we can trust.

It's an interesting thought experiment, but I wonder if we can satisfy many use cases without having to build a truly secure smartphone.

For example, if I just want to have voice calls to a handful of people with the content of the calls encrypted, then perhaps I can just plug in a "scrambler box" between my untrusted off-the-shelf phone and my audio headset?

So rather than designing a secure phone where we trust the wifi stack, the baseband stack, the bluetooth stack, the graphics stack, the USB stack, the flash storage stack because we've designed them from scratch, all we have to design is a little scrambler box that just has audio in, audio out, some mechanism for key generation and exchange, and only needs a laughably modest CPU to do the encryption.

Don't really need an OS at all - single process and static memory allocation should suffice.

The audio encoding/decoding and encryption/decryption don't sound too hard to implement from scratch. It's the interoperability with the rest of the world and the UI that makes implementing a whole smartphone so hard.

[I do wonder though how well our scrambled audio will make it through the phone network which is applying lots of clever compression designed for speech.]

If we assume we can mostly trust hardware designs that are at least 30 years old then we can probably avoid designing all the hardware from scratch - e.g. there's probably some sort of Z80 clone CPU we can copy.

The mechanism for key generation and management sounds a bit tricky though. The user would need some way to add his contacts' keys to his scrambler box.

A keyboard and LCD display to type keys in by hand would be secure but impractical for long keys.

The level of tech needed to read a key file from a FAT filing system on a USB stick might be too high to be easily implemented securely. Any ideas?

I'm aware of the famous "trusting trust" paper, but I'm not sure we need to worry too much about the compiler used to build the software running on our scrambler box. All we need to do is choose a compiler released before we started out project and never upgrade it. It is hard to imagine a compiler backdoor that would automatically recognize that the intent of our code is to encrypt data and undetectably comprise it (though it would be wise I guess to avoid any existing implementations of cryptographic primitives).

Sounds like a hardware kickstarter project :)


"Sounds like a hardware kickstarter project :)" Exactly!!!

We may as well try it out! The concern will be the goal of the project...

What will be the output ?

Will it be just an experiment or business based project?

Never the less, it is exciting to see that a unique device can be made actually!

I would love to see how secure it would be at the end!


It is an exciting idea but the two obstacles I can see are:

1) When asked, people may say they want security and privacy - but in practice convenience and functionality win.

2) Among people who genuinely need secure communications, encrypting the content of calls/texts is good, but isn't normally sufficient - they're still vulnerable to traffic analysis.

By traffic analysis I mean that even though the adversary can't read the content, they can still figure out things like:

"Mr X is the ring-leader of the freedom fighters since his phone is used to send encrypted messages to several other phones, which then send messages on to several other phones."

"Mr Y is guilty of orchestrating the protests since we saw a strong correlation between the times of the protests and messages coming from his phone."

So I'm not sure how popular the product would actually be. Unless we can somehow solve the traffic analysis problem.


Traffic analysis is not a problem if we could ever gotten that far.

We can solve it by faking the signals and sending it every x timestamp. So they will think there is a traffic but there is not. This is the first came to my mind but i don't think it is a big issue at all.

Marketing of this, is a little bit different. Of course, you will not sell if you say you have the most secure phone. But if you polish it with some exciting features which does not exist yet? :)


Will the browser be OSS? Will the mail app? Message app? Maps app? If the essential apps that constitute a "smart phone" are not open source, at least the defaults, it's really irrelevant.

Not to mention that none of the providers have the code to the baseband.

I could imagine a phone that treats the baseband as an untrusted entity and encapsulates everything running over it. This would require forcing SSL for all HTTP traffic, and using some standard for SMS and Voice encryption that is on by default when the recipient on the other end also has a supported device. For those that do not you're unencrypted SMS would be exposed at many hops even if they smartphone were full OSS and trusted, even to the baseband level. So silo'ing everything where possible is a valid solution with closed basebands.


Will someone please tell them to remove the clips in their video of testing a white phone in the interest of brand consistency? Also this idea seems like a solid game plan for Blackberry? They could rename their company "Black" ala P-Diddy v just Diddy. :)


How difficult is it really to make a truly open source phone ? All it takes is one dedicated hardware company and a software company coming together.

Hackers have built some amazing hardware in past and we all know about how open source communities have built some of worlds best software. Google, Apple etc. are building devices where they act as gatekeepers and charge us for all nonsensical stuff. If you make a website there are a gazillion ways to promote it but there is only one way to promote and app. Pay some advertiser and you are totally at mercy of Google or Apple.

Firefox has been doing the right thing so far but they seem to take too much time.


The baseband or "The secret second operating system that could make every mobile phone insecure". It's used by all phones and it's unsecure. Do they rely on the same baseband? Source: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/170874-the-secret-secon...


Openmoko did that before Android. Sadly, it had a very lukewarm response owing to a not-so-good hardware.


If I desire privacy would I buy a Blackphone, or would I buy another more common smartphone which I would then secure?

If you're "picked up" or detained and you have a Blackphone, or someone observes you using your Blackphone I doubt very much it would help your pricacy concerns.

If however you have a seemingly normal phone it might be overlooked and simply using it wouldn't raise suspicion.

My point is that this type of phone is more for the "regular" person who simply doesn't want to be monitored (as much) and not covert agents looking for a secure phone/platform for communication.


This maybe a bit off topic but, why did Switzerland get the .ch domain instead of china. China seems to have a lousy CN domain ,( which reminds me of cartoon network for reasons that are irrelevant here).


CH is Switzerland's ISO-3166 code. The full country name is Swiss Confederation (which is Confoederatio Helvetica in latin).


I think it stands for "Confederatio Helvetica", and is the official abbreviations (eg : on licence plates)


It has been like that before internet domains: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2


Same reason the abbreviation for the Swiss Franc is CHF.


Does any one else find it odd a privacy centric phone's website won't load without scripts, cookies, etc? I would think they would have a text only version if items failed to load properly...


Does anyone else see this as ridiculous attempt to profit off the NSA leaks. The video is about scaring people into believing their being "enslaved" and are coming out with a device that has "never before before created" that is aimed at "for privacy-minded, security-minded people". It's filled with unrelated words like "neutrality", "all walks of life", "innovative thinkers" to make it seem legit.

There is no mention of the methods used by the phone to ensure privacy.


I know they are pre-launch and this is just a landing page, but it doesn't tell us much. Questions:

1. Is this just a stock phone with some privacy-orientated applications built-in, or is the OS and hardware contributing anything?

2. They seem to be using Android. AOSP or Cyanogenmod? Have they any work themselves to harden the OS? Are they using virtualisation?

3. Any closed binary blobs in there? What about the baseband firmware? (Does open source baseband firmware even exist?)

4. Whats the hardware like? Is it hardened in any way?


Love the idea of a GSM handset that believes in protecting my privacy, however all their features seem to revolve around a secured Android OS.

Does anyone know if the actual baseband/wireless side has been designed with security in mind? -for example I'd love to be warned when I'm connected to an A5/0 "encrypted" GSM network, but I haven't been able to find a handset build in the last decade that's willing to warn me.


"and anonymize your activity through a VPN."

iOS and Android support VPN but it needs to be manually activated each time, making it rather useless unless you're using some public wifi. If I understand correctly there is a possibility for large companies to integrate VPN but for the average guy it's rather useless if you have to activate it. If this phone has VPN really integrated that'd be great.


I understood that this had been fixed in Android a while back so it would start up automatically? Personally, I'm still on 2.3 which requires a manual startup...


If you could tell me how to do it that would be great. I'm still stuck turning it on all the time. Auto-on would be awesome.


Isn't the problem more connected to the hardware and the fact that most people are already willingly using tons of applications who are giving information about you to companies like google (maps) twitter, facebook etc. If you install the apps with consent on your phone, and those apps have access to the linux or ios kernel runtime and syslogs then you're basically fucked from start.


It's interesting that all the work being done on this "secure" phone is being done on non-secure hardware and networks. Presumably if interested parties think this is a threat, they can access all comms/data about this new phone, inject themselves where they see fit and compromise the final product.

Oh, and never mind compromising the people involved.


No Play store in this I hope. I'm currently running Cyanogenmod without Gapps and I'm wondering what this will offer me.


Looks like there will be several players in this market - an alternative is Indie Phone; http://indiephone.eu .. If it ever ships it should be a better alternative privacy-wise as they are building everything from the ground up (their own OS instead of relying on Android, etc.)


This is not the 'first' phone to do these things. I had an idea along these lines in 2003, and some searching turned up a German company that was already doing it. Somebody bought them a couple of years later, and I don't know what happened to the phone. This sure isn't the 'first' though.


Would it be possible to do the encryption outside of a normal phone, via some AD/DA converted plugged into the standard 3.5mm-headphone minijack?

I started a thread to discuss this idea:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7066792


Renowned cryptographer believes his 'Blackphone' can stop the NSA

http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/15/5310710/phil-zimmermann-si...


Unless it's possible to power down the communications processor, install fully open source software on it (from the boot and up), and disconnect it from any antennas, I don't trust it at all.


"You can make and receive secure phone calls; exchange secure texts; exchange and store secure files; have secure video chat; browse privately; and anonymize your activity through a VPN."

People. It's really secure, private, and anonymous, ok?


I get the feeling this phone was designed by a marketing group, and not competent engineers. Unless they completely design every chip in the phone, including the SIM and wireless chipsets, the device will never achieve their stated goals.


Their trailer seems a little too "inspired" by this First ELSE promo video from 2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHghZnOH8dA


Exactly! I thought this whole black thing was some kind of spoof.


One should be concerned about privacy and digital footprints , but more or less it depends on how many people are looking forward to adapt this concept. People still use Gmail and facebook .


They should probably work on the mixed-content SSL warnings on their own website. It's obviously not related to the security of the phones, but it doesn't instill much confidence.


Unless they have some really special hardware in this, I don't see how its that much different than running cyanogenmod + secure applications on top, such as textsecure.


>> "Enabling revolutionary communications"?

Eh? Wouldn't "Enabling secure/private communications" be a better, albeit less grand, descriptor?


Presumably they mean that literally: enabling the type of communications you need during a political revolution.


Please not another long scrolling page without any real info... shame, I might have wanted one if they had provided any specs or technical details at all...


I thought it was funny, considering the top comments, that if I cntrl+F for "zimmerman" it takes me all the way to halfway down the page


I stopped watching the video at 'Android'.


How usable is Android without a continual involvement with Google? If you have to be involved with Google, there's no point.


I am not getting it, how do you prevent the carrier from knowing where you are if you sign up to it with your number?


While I see the reasoning, the name "Blackphone" just has too much of a racist connotation in America.


Since NSA/FBI can reroute shipping boxes and install malware in them - do they have any plans against that?


Tamper evident holograms above each and every screw?


For a project concerned with privacy and anonymity the news subscription form is asking way too much.

Also, why is domain on .ch ?


I think it's just a (clever) part of their branding; Switzerland has long had an explicit policy of neutrality.

Not a super-reputable source, but succinct: http://www.wisegeek.org/why-is-switzerland-regarded-as-a-neu...

Official Swiss propaganda, but has more info: http://www.vbs.admin.ch/internet/vbs/en/home/documentation/p...


There's also a strong branding presence of Swiss products in UAE and China (including some brands you'd never hear of in Switzerland itself), there seems to be a very strong association of "Swiss Made" with luxury product. I've even seen opticians advertising "Swiss Glass"(?) in Hong Kong. Thinking back to a talk by the founder of Virtu, I wouldn't be surprised if the middle and far east are key markets for this type of product.


I wondered that as well, could entirely just clever branding because of neutrality.

They state in the video: "Blackphone is a Swiss joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone"...

Still doesn't reveal much, as both companies in this joint venture aren't swiss and in the swiss company register I couldn't find an entry for them.


"The company itself will be based in Switzerland due to that country's strict privacy rules."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/15/encrypted_blackphone...


I believe the company is Swiss.


Doesn't seem to be.

  Domain name:
  blackphone.ch

  Holder of domain name:
  Geeksphone S.L.
  Geeksphone Rodrigo S
  calle Manuel Silvela 1
  ES-28010 Madrid
  Spain
It's just very curious that they feel like they need to pass for a Swiss company.


It’s not that curious: Switzerland through their history and neutrality policy have a reputation for being secure and unlikely to bow to foreign influence.


No, I realize that. I just don't understand what they are trying to gain by using .ch domain name. That people who are interested in privacy and security wouldn't notice that they are a Spanish company and proceed to think of them of a Swiss project? Seems pointless at best and misleading at worst.


The phone image is missing. Check "images/teaser_site/img03.jpg", css #phone style.css line 396

Thanks


I would personally be interested if they would provide security updates over a long period of time.


Isn't this kinda moot if you're using any services that is domiciled in the States?


remember: as long as you are outside the US, you are safe from espionage


The website doesn't really tell me anything about the phone.


I loved it when they asked for my full name to keep me informed.


Is it an Android phone?


Ouch, don't try this one on a slow connection.


> Use the apps you know and love.

Ok, so how do they stop Facebook et al from abusing our contact lists and location data as they do on existing smart phones?


Too bad they couldn't get the url blackphone.sh

;)


Just get an old Nokia feature phone


I think the Blackphone is a fantastic reaction to the problem of corporate and government spying. It will build awareness of privacy issues, and pave the way for other more secure offerings. A great first step.


Personally, if I were really worried about privacy I would use burners or get a lineman's handset. It seems like a smart device that you use all the time is going to have the same problems.

So, yeah you can encrypt the voice channel. That's great. You can send encrypted text messages. The people involved are serious cryptographers. All of it sounds good.

You have to ask your self though, what is it you are trying to do? Who is your adversary? Other people here have mentioned it, but what about apps on the phone? Facebook is still Facebook.


nowhere near as secure as a burner phone purchased in cash.


Funny how there's a twitter link at the bottom.

Jokes aside, I think it's a great initiative, looking forward to see what comes out of it.


It would be nice to order Chinese food anonymously with this phone. Looking forward to the release!




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