If you need proof the world is more paranoid than ever about privacy, eavesdropping, and other nefarious spy-related activities, then look no further than ESD America. The company name may not be as familiar to you as Samsung or Apple, but at the moment it’s churning out 400 smartphones a week, and it can’t keep up with demand.
Why? The phone it sells is called the GSMK CryptoPhone 500, and it’s a super secure device which sets up a secure connection between two communicating phones, ensuring calls and data exchanged stays secret. It’s for those who’re seriously concerned by Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding our privacy, as the phone costs $3,500.
It’s not a bespoke smartphone either, but a repurposed Samsung Galaxy S3. The existing Android OS is wiped, and replaced by a new version created by German security specialists GSMK. The OS promises “360 degree protection,” and offers voice encryption, secure messaging, an encrypted storage system, self-destructing messages, and a clever encryption method which uses random background noise as its key.
ESD America’s CEO, Les Goldsmith, told MIT Technology Review that demand for the phone has “soared” over the past months. The 400 produced each week simply isn’t enough, and he estimates there are 100,000 CryptoPhone devices now in use around the world. The CryptoPhone 500 isn’t ESD’s only product. The Las Vegas-based firm also sells everything from bomb proof suits and powerful “defensive sprays,” to fully trained sniffer dogs. Ironically, it also sells GSM Interceptors – used for monitoring and decrypting GSM mobile calls.
If the secure aspect of the CryptoPhone 500 appeals, but the five-times-the-price-of-an-iPhone puts you off, then there are cheaper options out there. The Blackphone, for example, uses Silent Circle’s security apps and protection, costs a more reasonable $630. If that’s still too steep, then FreedomPop offers the Galaxy S2-based Privacy Phone for just $190.