Cellphone spying and malware could become things of the past if Ziklag Systems has anything to do with it. The company recently unveiled the Fortress Fone, which they state is the first smartphone with a strengthened operating system that blocks malware and spying.
“Today’s smartphones are great, but they are dangerous because none of them protect privacy,” said Tom Malatesta, COO of Ziklag Systems, in a press release. “All of them are open to both external spying through intercepts and internal spying by malware.”
“Today governments, law enforcement, and criminals are taking advantage of smartphone vulnerability to collect information and listen in on calls,” Malatesta said.
Cellphone spying comes in several forms. The 2008 FISA Amendments Act gave the National Security Agency (NSA) power to spy on Americans’ international email and phone calls, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Cybercriminals can also easily tap into phone calls or turn a smartphone into a spy phone—giving them access to nearly all data stored on a phone or tablet, control its functions, or redirect its data. According to the Ziklag Systems website, spy phone operators often target high-level targets in government, finance, research, and the military.
The Fortress Fone came about through a challenge to build better security for government agencies in Italy, where, according to a phone interview with Stephen Carnes, president of phone encryption service Kryptos Communications, “basically there are no punishments involved” for intercepting phone calls.
“Without strengthening the porous operating system of the smartphone, the reality is there is no protection at all, either for the data on the phone, the networks connected to the device, or the voice channels,” said Fabrizzio Vacca, CTO of Telsy SpA, the business partner of Ziklag Systems, in a press release.
Ziklag Systems CIO James Swanson is a retired naval intelligence officer and former Pentagon technology guru. He noted that people are now shifting from computers to smartphones and tablets. “The problem is they are going from a partially protected environment that at least has a firewall, to devices that don’t have such protection,” Swanson said.