Several European manufacturers spawn NSA-proof Android “cryptophones”


The NSA spy scandal caused an uproar in many countries, whose leaders' smartphones were being spied upon, most notably Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel. The intelligence scandal greatly increased the demand for encrypted mobile devices and communications in Europe. Many European political leaders will most probably ditch their high-end iOS and Android devices for a new breed of smartphones – the “cryptophones”.

One of the latest additions to the not so large list of “spy-proof” phones comes from France. At the beginning of October, Bull SA, a French security gear manufacturer, unveiled the Hoox m2, which is “a smartphone, designed for security”. The device is encrypted on both hardware and software levels. The $2760 smartphone includes biometric and logical authentication mechanisms. Bull SA states that the Hoox m2 strictly controls all of its communication features and includes a full system lock via the built-in biometric sensor. In case your Hoox m2 device falls into the wrong hands, the smartphone's built-in biometric sensors will lock it and only the owner will be able to reactivate it. The alleged “hacker-proof” device will run a re-engineered version of Android, which will encrypt all calls, SMS and e-mails. The hardware specs of the Hoox m2 are quite modest, as it comes with a 4.68-inch display, which has a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels, a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A5 processor and 1GB RAM. A 5MP camera can be found on its back.

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"If you're not worried about sophisticated attacks, maybe a software solution is good enough for you," says Franck Greverie, head of Bull Security Solutions. That's exactly what another French contractor, Thales Group SA, offers - an enterprise security software for Android, called Teopad. It is based on the same technology, used in the company's military-grade Teorem phones, which are mostly used by French military personnel and high-ranking politicians. Thales SA states that the Teopad software will split your Anroid OS “in two” and create a dedicated professional workspace that is completely separate from the user's personal one. The dedicated workspace is encrypted and comes with strong authentication.

Germany has its own line of secure mobile phones, too. GSMK, a local manufacturer, has been selling its CryptoPhone line of smartphones for over a decade. The latest addition to the company's portfolio is the CryptoPhone 500, an Android-based device, which has been on the market for several months. The smartphone, which is based on the Samsung Galaxy S III, comes with a two-layer AES256 encryption, which offers secure messaging and voice over IP communication on any network (3G, GSM, UMTS/W-CDMA, Wireless LAN, etc.). GSMK's Galaxy S III CryptoPhone 500 also comes with baseband firewall, which allegedly provides 100% protection against over-the-air attacks. The hardware specs of the German smartphone are completely identical to the Galaxy S III, Samsung's flagship smartphone from 2012.

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