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Boeing Developing A Self-Destructing Spy Phone

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 2:45pm
Joel Hans, Managing Editor, Manufacturing.net


A company best-known for developing a healthy share of the aircraft civilians use to jet around the globe, and military pilots use to blaze toward their objectives, is now developing an Android-based smartphone that will self-destruct if a third party attempts to break in and extract its secrets.

The company has been developing this phone for more than two years, but only this week filed paperwork with the FCC to have it approved for actual use.

The phone, codenamed “Black,” comes with all the features that savvy consumers are demanding as well, such as support for all the wireless spectrums used globally (GSM, LTE, and WCDMA), plus some wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. According to the company's spec sheet, it features a 4.3-inch, 540 x 960 display and 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs. A back panel can be extended to work with solar chargers, biometric scanners, advanced location tracking and satellite receivers — great tools for spies on the move. Or just a jet-setting executive who has a habit of forgetting his phone on the bar.

In the FCC filing, the company writes, “Boeing has developed its Black phone primarily by governmental agencies and their contractors to ensure that data and voice communications undertaken by their respective employees are transmitted and stored in a highly secure manner.”

Whether the company is developing this device for its own use is not yet clear, although would be assumed, considering it certainly falls under the label of a “contractor” to the U.S. government. There is little doubt that Boeing has a great deal of intellectual property that follows engineers and executives alike as they move between work from home, or in travel. A smartphone such as this could better protect their IP against targeted thefts or attacks.

What happens, then, when a nefarious agent tries to get to the data locked away inside? In the filings, Boeing wrote: “The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws, the heads of which are covered with tamper proof covering to identify attempted disassembly. Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable.”

Some of the best news is that the phone will be assembled here in the U.S. — not a big surprise for a company that already has a massive amount of manufacturing assets locally. There's no word where the phone will be assembled, but perhaps that's also the type of information Boeing hopes to keep secret with the new device.

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