Boeing makes 'self-destruct' top secret smartphone

Boeing Black phone
Image caption Boeing has customised the Black with its own suite of security apps

A smartphone designed for handling top secret communications has been developed by Boeing.

If the phone is tampered with, it automatically deletes any data and renders itself inoperable.

Better known for its aeroplanes, the firm said it needed to help organisations get "trusted access to data to accomplish their missions".

The device, named Black, joins a growing range of high-security smartphones entering the market.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a similarly-titled Blackphone was announced, aimed more at businesses and consumers worried about private data.

Boeing already provides secure communications for US government officials - including the president.


Boeing's Black is not intended for mainstream use - and does not yet have a price or release date.

The device took 36 months to produce, the company said, and has drawn on expertise from recent acquisitions of companies specialising in mobile technologies.

Product specifications posted on Boeing's website state that the device contains two SIM cards to allow switching between government and commercial networks.

The smartphone runs a heavily-customised version of Google's Android operating system and Boeing has added its own branded security apps.

But where Black goes beyond typical mobile security is in physical enhancements to the hardware itself.

"There are no serviceable parts on Boeing's Black phone and any attempted servicing or replacing of parts would destroy the product," the company explained in documents sent to the Federal Communications Commission.

"The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with [extremely strong glue] 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."

Furthermore, the phone's hardware can be expanded to include biometric sensors, satellite receivers or solar panels.

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