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Boeing's 'Black' smartphone will deactivate if tampered with

The aerospace and defense company releases a covert spy-phone that can identify attempted disassembly and trigger functions to delete data and software -- therefore, making the device inoperable.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Drawing of Boeing's "Black" high-security smartphone that was filed with the FCC. Federal Communications Commission

Boeing has made a smartphone that appears to have come straight out of a James Bond movie. Codenamed "Black," this spy-like phone will erase all data and deactivate if tampered with or pried open.

The aerospace and defense company filed documents for the phone with the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday. These documents were first sighted by tech site Myce, and Boeing confirmed with CNET that it has indeed released the device, which runs on Google's Android.

While many of the details about the smartphone are confidential, a letter included in the filing gives a bit of explanation.

"Boeing's Black phone will be sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security," the letter says.

Boeing writes that the device won't be available to the consumer market and technical information on "Black" is to remain confidential or protected by non-disclosure agreements. This is most likely due to the device's high security.

"The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws, the heads of which are covered with tamper proof covering to identify attempted disassembly," the letter says. "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."

The filing doesn't include many images or specs on the smartphone, but it does show that the device will have dual SIM cards and support GSM, WCDMA, and LTE.

Boeing's plans to create an uber-secure Android phone leaked out two years ago, but news on the device has been quiet ever since. At the time, the smartphone was reported to be cheaper than similar proprietary secure devices, which could put it in competition with companies like BlackBerry that are known for making secure government devices.

A Boeing spokesperson told CNET that "Black" has unique embedded hardware and software security. It also is compatible with other mobile management systems.

"Designed to meet the evolving security needs of defense and security customers, Boeing has released a modular smartphone to enable secure access and exchange of critical data and communications on a trusted mobile device," the spokesperson said. "Boeing has drawn on its deep expertise in information assurance, advanced technology partners and a US-based manufacturer to provide an innovative, secure and flexible mobile solution."

[Via GeekWire].

Update, February 27 at 11:30 a.m. PT: With comment from Boeing spokesperson.