New 'Blackphone' claims to be hacker-proof

Credit: Getty Images

A Blackphone security optimized smartphone designed by Silent Circle is arranged for a photograph on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Top telecommunication managers will rub shoulders in Barcelona this week at the Mobile World Congress, Monday, Feb. 24 - 27, a traditional venue for showcasing the latest products for dealmaking. Photographer: Angel Navarette/Bloomberg via Getty Images


by Andrew Delgado / KENS 5

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 11:35 AM

 SAN ANTONIO -- Do you feel like big brother is spying on you? With the recent leaks made public by former NSA staffer-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, that may feel truer than ever, but it's the companies developing the apps on your smartphone who are keeping a close eye on you.

Enter 'Blackphone,' an Android-based smartphone that aims to protect its users from hackers, governments, and something else -- smartphone apps.

Debuted recently at the World Mobile Congress, Blackphone is being hailed as the digital equivalent of a ski-mask -- keeping a person's identifiable features completely hidden.

Many folks would be surprised to know that phone data can be quite revealing -- location, contacts, phone and data usage are all metrics that can be tracked by third-party applications.

How can they do this? You have to opt in, of course! (Think of the contract most people readily agree to whenever a new app is downloaded and opened.)

But it's not your personal life that companies want to glimpse. Like most business strategies, it's about cold, hard cash.

Mined data is often sold to other companies, like advertisers, who pay top dollar for a person's information.

That's why the Blackphone boasts 'military-grade' encryption, guaranteeing that no one can hack the phone's proprietary operating system, called 'PrivateOS.'

Co-founder Silent Circle claims 'PrivateOS' will allow users to make and receive secure calls and text messages, as well as surf the web privately through an anonymous virtual private network.

And the really neat feature is that the phone can be fine-tuned to an individual's privacy preferences.
Users will still be able to download Angry Birds, Instagram and other apps that surreptitiously mine data; however, Blackphone users will receive a notification shortly after launching an app, stating that a third party is attempting to access peripheral phone data.

If all these geeky terms are making your temples thump, one Blackphone advertisement puts it simply:

"Technology was supposed to make our lives better; instead we have lost our privacy. Now it's time for a change."

Is Blackphone NSA-proof? Probably not.

Co-founder Mike Janke told CBS: "No, there is nothing in the world today that is NSA-proof."

But rest assured, with Blackphone, it's a lot easier to go off the grid.

The 'smarter-phone' carries a $629 price tag. Yes, it's pricey, but in the digital age, can you really put a price on privacy?