Boeing's Secure Black Smartphone: 10 Cool Features We All Might Want

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-02-28 Print this article Print

Boeing, a company that is perhaps best known for its work in aviation and as a highly trusted U.S. government contractor, has unveiled a new smartphone it's calling, simply, Black. The handset, designed for U.S. and presumably allied intelligence agencies, will try to maximize device and data security while still providing agents in the field with reliable mobile connections. Boeing's Black smartphone highlights the impact cyber-security is having on governments around the world. Each day, it's believed that the United States and foreign governments like China are spying on government and corporate networks to gather strategic information. A hidden cyber-war is being waged, and the country that has the strongest tools might succeed in gaining an edge that could prove decisive in the event of conflict. This eWEEK slide show looks at the Boeing Black and what makes it such an interesting and potentially useful tool in the intelligence field. Admittedly, the following information is based only on what's been made publicly available. All of the specifications that make the Boeing Black valuable to the intelligence community will likely never see the light of day—at least not for years to come.

  • Boeing's Secure Black Smartphone: 10 Cool Features We All Might Want

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - Boeing's Secure Black Smartphone: 10 Cool Features We All Might Want
  • It's Actually Not a Bad Handset

    Although its design might indicate that the Boeing Black is a low-end device, its specifications are actually respectable. The device comes with a 4.3-inch qHD display and has a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor. The handset is extremely thick by today's standards, measuring 13.25mm, but all in all, it's not a bad design.
    2 - It's Actually Not a Bad Handset
  • Layer Upon Layer of Security

    The amount of security features built into the Boeing Black is astounding. There are literally layers of security built into the Black. Boeing claims that the device has hardware-based encryption and other unidentified security features. It comes with operating system policy controls and is compatible with government-supported device management systems.
    3 - Layer Upon Layer of Security
  • Modularity Is at Its Core

    According to a product card Boeing released, the Black has a modular design with expansion ports to accommodate diverse mission needs. It has both built-in sensors and support for additional sensors to suit specialized needs.
    4 - Modularity Is at Its Core
  • Calling In a Satellite

    Not surprisingly, the Boeing Black is capable of connecting to satellites. Boeing, of course, didn't get into too much detail about this feature, but it appears that with some sort of enhancement, users can have full "satellite connectivity," which has been an essential feature in the military and intelligence communities for decades.
    5 - Calling In a Satellite
  • Pick a Network, Any Network

    Since the U.S. government has its own cellular networks outside the scope of the commercial carrier mobile networks, the Boeing Black supports both. Moreover, Boeing says that the agent in the field can seamlessly switch between the networks as needed. Boeing hasn't said what commercial networks the Black will support, but chances are it's all of them.
    6 - Pick a Network, Any Network
  • It's Android-Based

    Android has gotten a bad rap when it comes to security. Many researchers and analysts have said that the operating system is a top destination for hackers because of its size and the relative ease with which they can infiltrate the platform. However, Boeing apparently is confident enough in Android that it's using it as the operating system of choice in the Black. Granted, it's a heavily modified version of Android, but it's Google's platform, nonetheless.
    7 - It's Android-Based
  • It's Fully Tamperproof

    Due to government regulations, Boeing was forced to file more details on the device's functionality with the Federal Communications Commission. It was through that filing that the Web discovered that the Black is completely tamperproof. The filing says that the handset is sealed with epoxy and screws. The heads on those screws, the filing says, "are covered with tamperproof covering to identify attempted disassembly."
    8 - It's Fully Tamperproof
  • There's No Way to Fix the Black

    All of that hardware protection means one thing: There's absolutely no way to fix any hardware issue with the Black. That's partly because the device isn't accessible from the outside, but also because it comes with a "Mission Impossible" feature that excites spy movie fans.
    9 - There's No Way to Fix the Black
  • The Black Self-Destructs

    This is obviously the coolest feature of the bunch, right? The Boeing Black self-destructs if it detects any attempt to tamper with it. The device wouldn't self-destruct in the sense of blowing up. But all hardware would be disabled and software and data would be destroyed with an attempt to open the device or change its functionality.
    10 - The Black Self-Destructs
  • You Will Never Get Your Hands on It

    With of the security issues mobile device users have to deal with these days, we might all wish that we could have a Boeing Black of our own. Unfortunately, at this point it appears that the Black is designed for government employees and not consumers. Let's hope that changes at some point in the future, if not from Boeing, perhaps from another device maker with similar ideas.
    11 - You Will Never Get Your Hands on It

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