Taking cues from "Mission Impossible," aerospace giant Boeing is developing a highly secure, self-destructing smartphone that can encrypt calls, protect stored information, or, if someone tries to tamper with or open the phone's casing, delete all of the device's data.
The so-called Boeing Black is the Chicago-based company's first push into the realm of secure smartphones. Plans were filed this week with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but Boeing is releasing few details publicly about the device.
The Boeing Black measures 5.2 inches (13 centimeters) tall, making it a bit larger and roughly 50 percent heavier than Apple's iPhone 5, reported the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The device runs on Google's Android operating system, and Boeing officials said the smartphones will be manufactured in the United States. [7 Technologies That Transformed Warfare]
"The Boeing Black smartphone was designed with security and modularity in mind to ensure our customers can use the same smartphone across a range of missions and configurations," officials wrote in a short description of the device on the company's website.
As such, the phone can be equipped with a diverse range of extra security features, including biometric sensors and satellite transceivers. Unlike regular smartphones, the Boeing Black also uses dual SIM cards to access more than one mobile communications network at a time.
The tamper-proof device is being designed for individuals in the U.S. defense and security community who require secure and trusted access to data, according to the company's FCC filings.
Boeing has yet to specify when the phone may be available, and for what price, but company officials said they have reached out to potential customers, according to Reuters.
With cybersecurity quickly becoming one of the nation's top priorities, Boeing is not the only company interested in gaining a foothold in the market.
Silent Circle, an encrypted communications firm based in the U.S., and GeeksPhone, a smartphone company headquartered in Madrid, Spain, joined forces to produce the Blackphone, an encrypted device that runs on a modified version of the Android operating system, reported the WSJ. The Blackphone was first announced last month, and is currently available to pre-order online for $629.
BlackBerry Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. are also focusing on beefing up security of their products, according to the WSJ.
Boeing is one of the largest aerospace and defense contractors in the world, known primarily for the production of commercial airplanes, satellites and fighter jets.
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Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.