CeBIT: Voice Encryption Not Just for Government Agencies Anymore

NEWS ANALYSIS: Encrypted voice communications are no longer just for government use as two European companies bring app-based security to voice users.

Download the authoritative guide: The Ultimate Guide to IT Security Vendors

Voice Encryption 2

HANNOVER, Germany—Secure, encrypted voice communications aren't exactly new. Military and other government users have had the capability for years. At CeBIT two years ago, SecuSmart brought the first secure cell phone communications to BlackBerry devices.

Since that time, the market for such encrypted communications has grown, but the technology has always been limited to government users.

Now that's changed. Two companies are showing secure mobile communications that are available to anyone. One of those companies is SecuSmart, which has moved beyond just working with BlackBerry, and now offers secure voice on Android and iOS devices with BlackBerry 10 device support coming in the second quarter.

Currently, the SecuSmart encryption app is being handled through Vodafone in the United Kingdom. But according to Hans-Christophe Quelle, managing director of SecuSmart, the app and its related service soon will be available in the United States. Previously, the company's encryption products required a micro SD card to perform the encryption, but now that's only necessary for the level of security required by government agencies.

SecuSmart is positioning the secure calling app to celebrities, politicians and business executives. To do this, the company had to do away with the requirement to have the encryption card in the phone, and instead is doing the work with software.

The app itself is available in the iOS and Android app stores, but it needs the Vodafone connection to function for billing. SecuSmart is also working with Samsung and BlackBerry to provide chip-based encryption for Samsung phones and tablets.

GSMK, meanwhile, has introduced the CryptoPhone, which is available in the United States and Europe now. There are three versions of the CryptoPhone, one that runs on Android phones, one for less capable feature phones and a third for desk phones. Unlike the SecuSmart phones, GSMK does not use an add-in chip, but rather modifies the firmware on the phone itself.

The CryptoPhone software adds some significant features to the smartphones on which it's installed, including an intrusion-detection module that will automatically reboot the phone to prevent potential malware infections.

The CryptoPhone provides voice encryption and it can also encrypt messages with the same 256-bit method that it uses for voice encryption. The phones also include a hardened operating system, a baseband firewall, encrypted storage and it has configurable security profiles.

The security can be set so that the phone can detect when it's connected to a bogus cell site or even when the phone is being tracked. Currently, the CryptoPhone software runs on Samsung and Motorola Android phones. A version for Windows Phone is in development.

CryptoPhone also makes an encryption app that provides secure voice for Android, iOS and soon Windows phones. Currently, that app is available from wireless carriers in Europe, mostly from T-Mobile.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...