Monday, July 2, 2012
Gear Review: Encrypted Cell Phone App
I'm more than a blunt instrument in most cases however, put me in a room of technophiles and I start playing with a Zippo as to be fascinated by fire rather than attempt a foray into geekspeak. That being said I appreciate the modern age we live in, it just also comes with sacrifices....like personal privacy. When I was a kid I had this conspiracy minded cousin who was convinced that the C.I.A. listened to everyone's phone calls. Some years later I was working alongside....someone..who was in the know about such things.
"That's ridiculous" he said, "everyone knows that's the NSA's job".
Humor aside he wasn't wrong and prior to 9/11 even the NSA didn't do this because there was this little problem of mass storage for all that data. Hence, if you read about that new NSA building in Utah and a few other places that got less media attention recently that is largely the idea there. Storage.
But take "The Man" out of it.
There was a brief and fleeting time when you didn't have to worry about privatized spooks and fifteen year old hackers eavesdropping on you. When we abandoned cellular and went digital with our "cell phones" calls where basically secure from prying ears in the private trade. If you were intent on listening in on someone badly enough it took roughly $5000+ to buy the American made equipment and a solid contact in Europe to buy it for you and get it back to you in the States (or so I heard).
Then came the "Smart phone"....which is akin to Military intelligence in the way of irony. That which makes it the most useful tech tool of the age is also it's Achilles heel: the Apps.
Whether the spyware comes in via a strange and random text, piggy backed from a known number or surreptitiously uploaded when you aren't in the briefest moment of possession of your phone; once on your calls are open to interception by whomever has access to that backdoor...that my friend is that.
Here is the deal, should you be less conspiratorial minded than others.
Everyday I encounter clients who will tell me "yeah but I don't think my business partner, competitor, future-ex-wife, legal team for this merger I'm apart of, is going to 'break the law' for this".
They will and they do.
Here is the point in which you should focus upon. It is not about using that information in court. It is about how to use that information for strategy, for planning, for tactical response.
Yet you still doubt.....
Despite the guns, the Dark Arts series, and all the rest, the end game is this I'm in the private intelligence business. Everyday of the week I sit in on phone calls, meet in hotel rooms, law offices, airport lobbies drinking copious amounts of coffee while my new found Client lays out information they have but don't necessarily know what to do with. Hence, it gets in front of me.
So a good portion of my work is laying out a response or planning for one. Eventually I end up on the phone with everyone. Having had my own information relayed back to me from other sources in what I shall refer to as "bad timing" on occasion makes the job more difficult.
Kryptos is a voice encryption app for your smart phone that runs $10 a month that utilizes military grade 256 bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption and, operates as a VoIP Peer to Peer comm.
As it was explained to me by the folks at Kryptos since it is a VoIP it does not fall under the FCC nor the telecommunications act hence it can't be warranted nor subpoenaed....and even if it could they couldn't. There is no recording and the system has no backdoor. As my point of contact there said "we can't even hack ourselves".
"Sure sure" you say "Nice sales pitch".
As of this writing (according to the folks at Kryptos) AES security is strong enough to be certified for use by the US government for top secret information...i.e. the Alphabet gang and the homies from homeland included are using it.
Call quality isn't bad at all. In fact its rather impressive. I've had three phone calls where we had to essentially stop contact because of bad signal connections (one person was at a indoor pool the other was....well not at an indoor pool). It does require a WiFi, 3G or 4G connection but, you can talk between the iPhone, Blackberry and Android platforms.
The other advantage is once I am able to secure comms between parties I know where intelligence IS NOT being leaked. That means it is a human factor and traceable. One new standard operating procedures with clients is to ask for their phone at our initial meeting, install the app, bill it to my account and simply take it out of the retainer.
Right out of the gates we are off to a strong start.
So what about you? Why would you need it?
Maybe you're a cop running an C.I., a spouse going through a nasty divorce with an uber tech savory future ex. Maybe you're just someone who has family overseas and Skype is the cheapest way to talk but, are tired of arranging schedules.
Is it the greatest app ever?????
Guess it depends on who you talk to.
Posted by Matthew at 1:44 AM