BlackBerry partners with Boeing to offer self-destructing SmartPhone

BlackBerry is teaming up with Boeing on a secretive, self-destructing smartphone developed for use by U.S. defence and homeland security employees and contractors.

The partnership showcases a push by Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defence contractor, into software development as sales slow for its military hardware amid Pentagon budget cuts. BlackBerry gains a new way to hold on to its government base as commercial sales decline.

“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES12 platform,” John Chen, chairman and chief executive officer of BlackBerry, said during an earnings call today.

“That by the way is all they allow me to say.”

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The aerospace company has been testing its secure smartphone, known as the Boeing Black, with BlackBerry’s BES12.

Boeing has released few details about the inner-workings of the phone, which it says in a brochure “was designed with security and modularity in mind.”

The phone is manufactured as a sealed device with epoxy around its casing and screws and a tamper-proof covering over the screw-heads “to identify attempted disassembly,” Bruce Olcott, outside counsel to Boeing, said in a Feb. 24 letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting that confidential design details be kept under wraps.

“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,” Olcott wrote.

The Boeing Black is also outfitted with two SIM cards instead of the one that’s standard on other mobile phones, so users can switch between government and commercial networks, according to a product description on the aerospace company’s website. There’s also a “modular expansion port,” which allows users to connect to satellites or expand the phone’s power capacity.

Key Features:

  • 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

Voice and data are encrypted via Boeing’s PureSecure architecture, a multilayered security system.[signoff predefined=”Enjoy this?” icon=”icon-users”][/signoff]