There are those who might be concerned about spying — by the government, hackers or someone else — on their phone calls and text messages. Well, now there’s an app for that.
According to Slate, the firm Silent Circle has released a smartphone app that encrypts data. As Ryan Gallagher for Slate puts it, “that means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.”
The company’s press release stated the Silent Phone app is available for both Apple and Android devices. It is described as the first peer-to-peer encryption tool for smartphones and tablets, which means information doesn’t pass through a third-party.
“Senior corporate executives and government officials are using work-issued smartphones and their own personal devices under BYOD for sensitive discussions, despite their increasing susceptibility to eavesdropping and other surveillance threats across all communication mediums,” Silent Circle CTO, co-founder and former PGP Corporation co-founder Jon Callas said in a statement . “Silent Phone is an easy to use, yet powerful smart phone application that leverages state of the art technology and is now available for iOS and Android, the two most popular smart phone platforms.”
The app creators discuss the need for encryption in this video:
Previous encryption, Slate noted, was relatively difficult for the non-tech savvy to understand. Gallagher writes that this app removes the difficulty.
Here’s more on Gallagher’s thoughts about the app and its potential:
It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade state surveillance or corporate espionage. Governments pushing for more snooping powers, however, will not be pleased.
But while Silent Circle’s revolutionary technology will assist many people in difficult environments, maybe even saying lives, there’s also a dark side. Law enforcement agencies will almost certainly be seriously concerned about how it could be used to aid criminals. The FBI, for instance, wants all communications providers to build in backdoors so it can secretly spy on suspects. Silent Circle is pushing hard in the exact opposite direction—it has an explicit policy that it cannot and will not comply with law enforcement eavesdropping requests. Now, having come up with a way not only to easily communicate encrypted but to send files encrypted and without a trace, the company might be setting itself up for a serious confrontation with the feds. Some governments could even try to ban the technology.
[Silent Circle CEO Mike] Janke is bracing himself for some “heat” from the authorities, but he’s hopeful that they’ll eventually come round. The 45-year-old former Navy SEAL commando tells me he believes governments will eventually realize that “the advantages are far outweighing the small ‘one percent’ bad-intent user cases.” One of those advantages, he says, is that “when you try to introduce a backdoor into technology, you create a major weakness that can be exploited by foreign governments, hackers, and criminal elements.”
The app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play or App Store costs $20 per month and both parties sending and receiving information need to have the app for it to work.
In addition to the Silent Phone app, which works to encrypt calls, here are a few other apps from Silent Circle with encryption capabilities:
Silent Text: Encrypted text messaging with “burn notice” feature for permanently deleting messages from device registries. Currently available for iOS with Android version pending.
Silent Eyes: Encrypted VoIP (video & voice) teleconferencing from laptops and business conference systems through Silent Circle’s custom HD network. Currently available for Windows.
Silent Mail: Coming soon, Silent Mail will offer encrypted e-mail on Silent Circle’s private, secure network and compatibility with popular e-mail client software.
Watch the features of the Silent Phone app for iOS devices:
Check out the features for Android devices using the Silent Phone app:
Featured image via Shutterstock.com.