While Blackberries have been the standard for government – and especially defence – employees for some time, a new hardware based encryption chip may bring the iPhone more into the fold for not just the government but the military as well.
KoolSpan’s new trust chip for the iPhone is a self-contained hardware-anchored encryption engine that claims to deliver industry-leading mobile device security with all-in-one key management, authentication and encryption.
The goal of the device is to protect iPhones from hacking, interception and theft.
“The chip itself allows one of our customers to run one, ten or twenty applications and we allow the management of both the chip and those applications remotely,” said Gregg Smith, CEO of Koolspan.
Koolspan’s “TrustCall” also allows secure voice communication for the tremendously popular handset.
The chip is kept within an external “TrustSleeve,” which is a lot like any other protective case that you put on your phone.
But this case is FIPS 140-2 Level 1 certified for enterprise and government customers and allows secure communications over wired, 2G, 3G, 4G, Edge, satellite and WiFi
It also claims to provide extended battery life and protection for the latest iOS versions. iPhone models that are supported by the hardware are the iPhone 4, 4s, 5 and 5s.
Koolspan has been providing crypto for the Blackberry since 2008 and for Android devices since they first entered the market, but iPhone’s are new territory.
“It is a chip that actually goes into a sleeve which allows us to enhance the crypto of the iPhone itself,” said Smith.
“The iPhone is somewhat of a closed device and it took us a while to create the sleeve that will allow the chip to go in and utilize the iPhone,” said Smith.
The immense popularity of the iPhone, but its comparable lack of security to other phones, give this product great potential.
“We have customers in a variety of different sectors in the government and certainly the military,” said Smith. “What we looked at when we looked at that particular market was secure communications for those servicemen, whether that is being able to talk securely, share files securely or text message securely.”
So, while this may not have much use in the battle space, it could come in handy for soldiers working domestically who would like to use some of their favourite Apple applications for work.
“The beautiful thing when you talk about the iPhone is that the application ecosystem is the best in the world,” said Smith.
“We can hardware enable any of those applications in the app store. So whether it is Evernote, for writing notes, or if you wanted to access Salesforce.com, you can even enable Facebook… We are able to offer a high-level of crypto for any application.”