At first it was apps like Wickr and Silent Circle designed to keep users’ communications safe but now we’re seeing more solutions baked right into handsets. Blackphone is perhaps the most popular example but low-cost mobile provider FreedomPop is now getting in on the action with a modified Samsung smartphone known as The Privacy Phone.
The most interesting device shown at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week was the secure Blackphone developed by Silent Circle and Geeksphone.
The Blackphone features anonymous search, automatic disabling of non-trusted WiFi hotspots, and private texting, calling and file transfer capabilities. It's available to the general public, and bundles additional security features that apparently go beyond the basic messaging security provided by Blackberry to enterprise customers in its Blackberry Messaging (BBM) service.
Apple on Friday issued an update that fixed a rather severe vulnerability in their SSL/TLS implementation in iOS. In short, the flaw allowed any hacker the ability to intercept data during supposedly secure and encrypted transfers when using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch on a public network. Estimates suggest that the vulnerability was introduced in iOS 6.0 back in September 2012 (Apple was added as a PRISM partner in October 2012, utterly circumstantial but just sayin'). After some reverse engineering of the patch, people discovered it overhauled some fairly major portions of iOS.
An annual report assessing the vulnerability and threat landscape for organizations, zeroed in on encryption issues that often plague mobile applications.
According to HP's Cyber Risk Report 2013, 46 percent of Android and iOS apps used encryption improperly, leaving users' data vulnerable to theft or misuse.
The pressure on the US government to reform the NSA’s surveillance programs is growing. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all called for change last month alongside a petition from international authors calling for an end to mass surveillance. President Obama announced big changes to government surveillance programs, but most of them centered around the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records, not its spying on internet communications. In an open letter published on Friday, more than 50 cryptography experts are asking the US government to make more changes to protect privacy.