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Innovation

Boeing Unveils Self-Destructing Government Black Phone

Boeing Unveils Self-Destructing Government Black Phone
February 27, 2014 3:09PM

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"The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws," Boeing said in an FCC filing. "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."

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In light of espionage and privacy revelations involving the National Security Agency and an increasing number of highly-publicized hacks, security and privacy are seeming harder to guarantee. Some companies are addressing that with security-centric devices, like the Blackphone that was demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress this week. But things are being taken to another level with Boeing's Black smartphone, intended for government use only.

Boeing unveiled the phone Wednesday, and while it is not yet available, the company said it is in talks with potential customers to launch the smartphone soon. The device took 36 months to develop, the company said.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the company discussed its top security feature: "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."

Self-Destructing

Boeing is usually known for its airplanes rather than mobile devices, but said it has been able to create the Black phone as a result of acquisitions in mobile technology.

"There are no serviceable parts on Boeing's Black phone and any attempted servicing or replacing of parts would destroy the product," says Boeing's FCC filing.

According to product information on Boeing's Web site, the phone will be able to house two SIM cards so users can switch between consumer and government networks. Boeing has only released a small amount of information regarding the phone's software, however we do know that it will run a significantly modified version of Android.

A New Market

There have always been secure alternatives to consumer devices meant for government employees but following a year of NSA revelations, many regular consumers and businesses are now viewing privacy and security features as important aspects of a mobile device.

Unlike the Boeing Black phone, devices marketed as secure to consumers are generally not completely secure, though they are better than mainstream devices. One of the primary examples of this has been the Blackphone which made its official debut at MWC. The phone, while secure, is not "NSA-proof," according to its creators, GeeksPhone and Silent Circle.

Consumers may continue to struggle when it comes to protecting their information, but a new wave of security-centric devices is beginning to emerge with the purpose of helping consumers keep their data safe.

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