In Brief

Boeing to sell hack-proof self-destructing smartphone

Security-focused Boeing Black smartphone is sealed with epoxy resin and wipes data if tampered with

boeing-smartphone.jpg

BOEING has filed papers outlining plans for a smartphone that will encrypt phone calls and "self-destruct" if anyone attempts to tamper with it.

The phone will be slightly larger than an iPhone and will run a variant of Google's Android operating system. According to Boeing, the phone is designed to be used by governmental agencies and their contractors.

The filings detail some of the phone's security provisions, including a casing sealed with strong epoxy resin, and a function that erases the device if it is opened.

"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," the documents say. "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."

The company, largely known for building airliners and military aircraft, was prompted to develop its own platform for secure mobile communication after the collapse of Blackberry. "In 2013, Boeing still had over 40,000 employees using BlackBerries," Quartz.com says. "The secure platform has long been a favourite for both government employees and those who did business with it."

Rebecca Yeamans, a spokeswoman for Boeing, told Reuters that the company has been developing the phone for three years. "We saw a need for our customers in a certain market space," she said.

Several other companies unveiled secure phones at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona this week, including the Swiss-based start-up Silent Circle. The company's Blackphone will be able to encrypt calls, messages and emails and comes preloaded with exclusive privacy apps. 

Boeing plans to sell its phone only to "approved" purchasers. "The phone will be sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defence and homeland security," the company said. 

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