Sailfish Secure wants to be an Android alternative safe from spies' prying eyes

In the wake of government surveillance and widespread hack attacks, Finnish company Jolla has revealed a new privacy-focused operating system.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

A hacker, yesterday. Shutterstock

Privacy is hot topic right now as spies and hackers are snooping into our lives and our phones like never before. Keeping your communications locked away from prying eyes, Sailfish Secure is a new version of the niche mobile operating system that's designed to bring peace of mind to businesses, government officials, and privacy-minded phone fans.

Sailfish developer Jolla has partnered with fellow Finns SSH Communications Security to build the privacy-focused software. It's based on the Jolla's Sailfish OS, bolstered by SSH's communication encryption and key management.

Jolla was formed in 2011 when a team of Nokia employees jumped overboard and took Nokia's MeeGo software with them to form the basis of Sailfish. Devices running Sailfish include the Jolla Phone and Jolla tablet, and the Acer Iconia Tab W500 and O2 Joggler.

Jolla is one of a number of operating systems looking to offer manufacturers and networks an alternative to Android. With everyone using Android it's difficult for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from rivals, not to mention the fact Android devices funnel money to Google when you splash out on an app, movie or other type of content.

Jolla is up against Firefox OS, Ubuntu and Tizen in offering manufacturers freedom from Google.

An emphasis on security and privacy is one way for Jolla to stand out from the crowd. Jolla reckons there are no European operating systems secure enough to provide a credible alternative to Android or other US-based operating systems. So Sailfish Secure is the latest in a growing trend of mobile hardware and software that places an emphasis on privacy in the wake of revelations about government agency mass surveillance of electronic communications. Devices like the Blackphone offer souped-up encryption and to keep spies from snooping.

Jolla also announced today the launch of Sailfish 2.0, the second generation of the operating system. It's set to show up in phones and tablets at some point in the second quarter of the year.