The latest development on the defense and security front is Boeing and BlackBerry's new partnership to make a super-secret phone designed for government agency workers.
It's called the Boeing Black and its claim to fame is its unique ability to self-destruct data and other secret information should it ever detect disassembly. BlackBerry, which has struggled to maintain a competitive edge in the mobile market, announced the new partnership during an earnings call Friday. The announcement came after at least two years of development.
“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES12 platform,” said John Chen, BlackBerry chairman and chief executive officer, according to Bloomberg. “That by the way is all they allow me to say.”
The mobile company's virtually unmatched privacy and security features on its phones and servers will pair with Boeing's new Boeing Black secure smartphone. The integration of the two will allow the government to keep track of employee's devices.
The tamper-proof specs make it virtually impossible for anyone to try and disassemble it without the phone detecting it, in which case, “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," according to Boeing outside counsel Bruce Olcott.
And for even more added security, the phone has biometric scanners, Britain's Telegraph reported. Further, the Boeing Black's encryption software is designed to prevent eavesdropping or spying. To make it easier for users to switch between government and commercial networks, the Boeing Black has two SIM cards as well as a modular expansion port, which allows it to connect to satellites.
Boeing's website gives more details as to the specs and features of the new phone:
- Android Operating System: Convenient smartphone for Android usage
- Disk Encryption: Encrypted storage for sensitive data
- Hardware Root of Trust: Ensures software authenticity
- Hardware Crypto Engine: Protects stored and transmitted data
- Embedded Secure Components: Enables trusted operations
- Trusted Platform Modules: Provides secure key storage
- Secure Boot: Maintains device image integrity
- Hardware Modularity: Endless modularity capabilities
BlackBerry has long provided smartphones to government workers. Meanwhile, Boeing has had a long-running contract with the U.S. government for its jets, weapons and space equipment. Perhaps feeling some of the effects of defense budget cuts, Boeing's move to provide more software to the federal government rather than relying on selling hardware isn't necessarily a huge surprise.
While much of Boeing's revenue from the federal government comes from the Pentagon, BlackBerry's reach extends from the lowest ranking bureaucrats to the executive office of the president. President Barack Obama himself even carries a BlackBerry smartphone since Apple's iPhone doesn't have a high enough level of security clearance, the Telegraph reported. However, the government will reportedly only be providing the Boeing Black to employees at the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security – at least for now.
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