Skip to Content
Uncategorized

The NSA Builds a Super-secure Android Device

The prototypes, code-named “Fishbowl”, make encrypted calls, and may be emulated by handset manufacturers.
February 29, 2012

The US National Security Agency has modified Google’s Android operating system to create smart phones that use powerful encryption to protect every call. The “Fishbowl” devices were announced today at the RSA security conference in San Francisco by Margaret Salter, the agency’s Technical Director, who said she hoped to encourage companies to adopt some of ideas used in the system.

Such was the interest in the NSA’s presentation that this reporter – and most others – weren’t able to gain access to the room where the demo was held. Australian IT publication SC Magazine did, though, reporting that Salter said 100 Fishbowl phones are being used to test the new technology. The Fishbowl phones allow fully encrypted calls that can be used to discuss the most classified information. Commercially available phones would require NSA employees to “speak in code”, SC say.

The NSA has made rough specifications of the system available online. They show that Fishbowl phones make calls using a Skype-style VOIP app that routes connections through NSA servers.

Another high up NSA official said yesterday that finding ways to secure smart phones and tablets was a major priority for the agency and that some details would be shared to encourage private companies to make all mobile devices more secure. A company wishing to emulate the Fishbowl approach would need to operate its own servers to route encrypted calls between phones running VOIP apps.

Android is open source software, so it may be that the source code to some modifications made by the NSA will be made public. The size of the government, and business, markets for mobile devices – still dominated by RIM’s BlackBerry devices – make it plausible that companies that manufacture Android phones will develop and sell Fishbowl-style devices of their own.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Embracing CX in the metaverse

More than just meeting customers where they are, the metaverse offers opportunities to transform customer experience.

Identity protection is key to metaverse innovation

As immersive experiences in the metaverse become more sophisticated, so does the threat landscape.

The modern enterprise imaging and data value chain

For both patients and providers, intelligent, interoperable, and open workflow solutions will make all the difference.

Scientists have created synthetic mouse embryos with developed brains

The stem-cell-derived embryos could shed new light on the earliest stages of human pregnancy.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.