Tag: nsa

Mobile security focused Blackphone blocks NSA spying

Although this heavily encrypted smartphone has been unveiled, what has yet to be seen is if consumers will buy.

Although spying hadn’t really been much of a mobile security or privacy concern in the minds of most consumers for a long time, the recent discovery that the National Security Agency (NSA) has certain surveillance activities that include tracking and watching certain cell phone activities has created a new niche market: the encrypted device.

The true question, however, is how big that market actually is and whether or not people who are interested will make a purchase.

A new device has just been unveiled, called the Blackphone. It was created by Silent Circle, an American encryption firm. It is focused primarily on mobile security, as its mobile developer has labeled that it is “the world’s first smartphone to put privacy and control ahead of everything else.” It is clear that consumers are feeling less secure about the privacy of their smartphones and other devices. Whether or not that heightened paranoia will actually drive them to turn in their old phones and purchase this new one is another matter, altogether.

This mobile security focused smartphone was launched in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress.

The Blackphone was designed to allow the user to send and receive encrypted phone and text communications, as well as secure sharing of files and highly private web browsing. According to the Blackphone chief product officer, Toby Weir- Jones, Silent Circle’s mobile development was geared toward creating the appearance and the feel of a traditional smartphones and the applications that are already familiar to users.

Although this device is certain to draw some attention, particularly from consumers who feel strongly that the NSA has no place in their private business and who are willing to change their lives and pay money to ensure that they can protect their own privacy. However, whether or not there is enough of a mass market for an anti NSA surveillance device has yet to be seen. Moreover, the creators of the device have made no claims in terms of the device being entirely hackproof.

Although the Blackphone does have greater encryption for improved mobile security, without greater guarantees and a closer reflection of the devices that consumers already have, this may remain the favorite of only a small niche.

Geolocation technology used by NSA to record 5 billion device locations worldwide

Recent revelations are shocking smartphone owners who are finding that their locations are being collected.

It has now been revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is using geolocation technology to track the location of billions of mobile phones around the world every day, even though it looks as though a very small fraction of one percent of the data is ever actually used.

It is estimated that this tech is collecting location data for around 5 billion different devices each day.

The massive NSA database currently includes “at least hundreds of millions of devices” according to reports that have been made by The Washington Post. This data is used to allow authorities to be able to use geolocation technology to locate “cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among the people using them.”

The use of the geolocation technology for data collection by the NSA is labeled as “incidental”.

NSA geolocation technologyIncidental data collection is a legal term that describes a result that is “foreseeable but not deliberate” by the company that is obtaining the information. That said, the activities of the NSA have been heavily criticized by privacy groups. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement that said “It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public debate.”

They also added to their statement that the “dragnet surveillance” that is going on to collect data regarding hundreds of millions of mobile devices “flouts our international obligation” for respecting the privacy rights of everyone from Americans to those from other countries.

These most recent discoveries have occurred at nearly the same time that Microsoft had revealed that it intends to implement greater methods of encryption. At the same time, they have been labeling the snooping from the government as being an “advanced persistent threat” when compared to cyber attacks and malware.

From among the information that is collected by the NSA through geolocation technology, they insist that only “a tiny fraction of 1 percent” is actually ever used, as the agency uses a powerful analytical program (known as Co-Traveler) in order to determine which targets to actually observe.