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U.S. military is now using the spy-resistant Blackphone

No device is perfectly secure, but the Pentagon is hoping the Blackphone comes close.


Eric Geller


Posted on Mar 31, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 4:44 am CDT

Even the U.S. Department of Defense might be worried about the National Security Agency spying on its other employees.

Okay, so it’s unlikely the NSA is spying on the DoD (which oversees the NSA). But countless foreign surveillance agencies are trying to do just that, and the government has been locked in an arms race with the makers of spying technology as it seeks to one-up them with secure devices.

To this end, the Pentagon is outfitting its employees, both soldiers and civilians, with Silent Circle’s Blackphone, a smartphone that bills itself as impervious to hackers and electronic surveillance.

Silent Circle’s Mike Janke told Nextgov that Defense Department employees were using the Blackphone for classified and unclassified purposes. The phone is considered a top-notch secure device because it is built with strong encryption from the ground up, beginning with its codebase and extending to the user-facing apps it supports.

What apparently made the Blackphone so appealing was that the Defense Department could set up the entire software system without any input or control from Silent Circle, thereby removing the manufacturer’s ability to interfere with sensitive operations.

The Pentagon refused to discuss device specifics with Nextgov.

“The Blackphone’s operating system and software options enable customers to essentially log in to the same phone under multiple personas, each with separate security restrictions,” Nextgov explains.

This feature, called Spaces, is a key part of Silent Circle’s PrivatOS.

“Spaces lets you create and manage self-contained areas, transforming one device into many virtual devices,” the company explains. “This makes it easier than ever to ensure that your business infrastructure is secure.”

“We believe that encrypted and secure communications and devices are a given right whether you are working for DoD or you’re working for a human rights group in Botswana,” Janke said.

Photo via cannedtuna/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Mar 31, 2015, 2:09 pm CDT