The Mission: Impossible phone has finally become a reality.
Cyber security startup DarkMatter unveiled what it calls the ‘world’s most secure phone,’ dubbed KATIM, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Monday.
Featuring a 5.2-inch display, KATIM might look like a typical Android phone, but it’s been tricked out with a slew of high-tech security features.
The phone is equipped with advanced encryption technology that makes it nearly impossible to break into.
The KATIM phone, pictured, is equipped with ‘shield mode,’ which disables the device’s microphones, cameras, Bluetooth connection and motion sensors to prevent listening
DarkMatter seems to have taken a page from the cult classic action film Mission: Impossible, in which Tom Cruise and other characters use phones that deliver secret messages and almost immediately self-destruct.
The KATIM phone won’t explode into pieces if stolen by a thief, but it does have a texting feature that makes messages ‘self-destruct’ after a certain amount of time.
Just like Snapchat, the messages will disappear after they’re read, making sure that your eyes are the only ones that see it.
The firm knows a thing or two about security, having hired former CIA and National Security Agency analysts.
Additionally, the phone can be controlled remotely by DarkMatter staff to ‘self-destruct’ other data on the phone if they detect data tampering.
The phone also has ‘strong cryptographic algorithms’ that the firm says are tested and vetted to encrypt data.
In order for hackers or spies to get access to that data, they’d have to crack the device’s crypto keys, which are stored on a microSD card that doesn’t work on any other phone, the Register noted.
The microSD also contains the user’s credentials, or data such as usernames and passwords.
The KATIM phone is equipped with a texting feature that makes messages ‘self-destruct after a certain amount of time passes. The feature makes sure only the owner’s eyes are seeing it
The KATIM smartphone isn’t too different from the phones used in Mission: Impossible (pictured), where secret government agents use self-destructing devices to protect data
HOW DOES THE KATIM PHONE PROTECT YOU FROM SPYING?
Cyber security firm DarkMatter, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, released a commercially available smartphone, KATIM, at Mobile World Congress this week.
The KATIM phone has a variety of encryption features that prevent people from spying on your conversations.
To start, messages self-destruct, or disappear, on the phone after a certain period of time passes.
But the phone also has a ‘shield mode’ which lets users turn off the microphone, camera, Bluetooth connection and motion sensors with the push of a button, located on the side of the device.
For worst case scenarios, DarkMatter has a team of support staff that can self-destruct, or erase, any data stored on the phone from a remote facility.
KATIM owners have to use two-factor authentication in order to unlock their device.
These features are all meant to make ‘break-ins a thing of the past,’ the firm says.
But perhaps the most intriguing feature is one called ‘shield mode,’ which DarkMatter says can provide ‘ultimate peace of mind for top secret meetings.’
Shield mode disables the KATIM’s microphone, camera, Bluetooth and motion sensors to prevent people from spying on your conversations.
‘If you are to enter a secure meeting or a very confidential meeting as a business, you are striking a secret deal, or as a government having a secret meeting in that regard…you always tend to find people leaving their phone outside the meeting,’ DarkMatter CEO Fisai Al Bennai told CNBC.
‘It’s because you can’t trust that no one, no super agencies are able to turn on that mic while you are sitting in the room,’ he added.
The feature can be turned on by switching on a button on the side of the phone.
Shield mode protects the phone from threats at a hardware level, but KATIM also has software-level encryption, starting from when the phone boots up to the applications being run on the device.
The phone comes with a secure app store that has a variety of vetted apps.
DarkMatter released a prototype version of the phone at last year’s Mobile World Congress, but it waited until 2018 to make a commercial version available.
All owners of the KATIM phone are required to use two-factor authentication to unlock the phone. This feature is meant to make ‘break-ins a thing of the past,’ DarkMatter says
The firm says the KATIM phone is designed for important government officials who handle sensitive or top secret information on a day to day basis.
That includes heads of states, corporations and defense departments.
KATIM differs from other secure phones currently on the market that don’t quite fulfill every need.
For example, security-focused Blackphone doesn’t let users own the crypto keys.
KATIM lets enterprises or nation states own the keys, the Register noted.
Another company, Sikur, also unveiled a security-focused phone at Mobile World Congress called the SikurPhone, which comes with a ‘hack-proof’ cryptocurrency wallet.