Boeing Readies Self-Destructing Secret Spy Phone

Diagram and label of Boeing's super-secret "Black" phone
Diagram and label of Boeing’s super-secret “Black” phone.

On the off-chance that the super-secure Blackphone isn’t crypto-punk enough for you, Boeing is building a smartphone that will self-destruct rather than give up a single byte of confidential data.

Boeing’s “Black” is a dual-SIM Android-based smartphone designed for AT&T’s LTE and HSPA network that was designed primarily for government agencies and contractors working in areas related to defense and homeland security, who need to be sure voice- and data traffic remains stored “in a highly secure manner,” according to documents Boeing filed with the FCC and revealed by Engadget.

“Black” was originally disclosed in an April 2012 press conference as “the Boeing Phone,” according to National Defense magazine. The phone was designed as a cheaper alternative to the $15,000-$20,000 encrypted phones available at the time. Boeing had a hand in the design and specifications of The Boeing Phone, but wouldn’t reveal which phone-maker it worked with to design the unit; the company said at the time that it expected to have the phone in circulation before the end of 2012.

After that, Boeing went silent for quite some time, possibly because it needed to work more on the phone’s tamper-proof case, which is sealed with epoxy around the seams; the heads of the screws holding it together are hidden under a “tamper-proof covering” that is so easy to damage, any marks on it would “identify attempted disassembly,” according to Boeing’s description. The casing is also rigged with failsafes to keep the data under wraps even if the phone itself is stolen: “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,” according to the company.

Boeing claims information about the device is immune even from Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests because the documents it filed with the FCC contain trade secrets that would harm Boeing’s business and national security if they were revealed. Any disclosure of details of the unit’s design or layout “would facilitate efforts to defeat Boeing’s hardware security measures, which would be counter to the underlying purpose of this product.”

The list of documents is here, though (spoiler alert) there’s no further information about when or to whom the phone would be available, the self-destruct mechanism, or what it would take to set it off.

Image: Boeing Co.