Secure Bittium Android Phone Has Split Personality
As everyone who watches TV and movie thrillers knows, the best way to ensure smartphone security is to tear your phone apart after making an important call and then break it into pieces and toss them into various trashcans and sewer grates. This can get expensive, however, especially if you want a nice model with 4K video and high-end cameras. Hence, the growing market for Android-based ultra-secure phones such as Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2, TRI’s Turing Phone, Sonim’s XP7 Public Safety, and Motorola Solutions LEX L10.
A year ago, Finnish company Bittium -- formerly Elektrobit Wireless Communications -- unveiled its ruggedized, Android-based Bittium Tough Mobile LTE smartphone as part of its Bittium Specialized Device Platform. At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Bittium followed up with a new software build for the phone based on Android 6.0 that offers a secure, containerized dual-boot scheme to separate user space into Confidential and Public sectors.
The Public mode enables typical usage, including social networking access, while the Confidential mode is “completely isolated and hardened for secure authority and information security use,” says Bittium. As a result, Jason Bourne, Carrie Mathison, and other government, enterprise, and public safety workers dealing with sensitive information, can avoid buying and carrying two separate devices.
Bittium also upgraded the phone’s Bittium Secure Suite, which enables features such as remote management and encrypted connections. The software includes secure boot, runtime integrity, and an application permission firewall. You can encrypt emails with PGP, and call upon FIPS 140-2 compliant hardware crypto. Other features include secure user credential storage, mass memory encryption and tampering detection.
The latest Bittium Secure Suite version adds a feature called Bittium SafeMove Analytics, which strengthens Bittium Tough Mobile’s hand in the first responder and public safety market. Bittium, Sonim, and Motorola all compete in this area, focusing primarily on users of the emerging, U.S.-based FirstNet public safety network.
Bittium SafeMove Analytics adds visual and real-time tracking, as well as sensor-based data collection. Administrators can track users’ movements on a map and create geo-fencing alarms, for example, warning a first responder if they’re moving into a hazardous area. The feature also helps analyze mobile networks and organize a mobile IoT network with on-the-fly analysis of sensor data.
Also at MWC, Bittium demonstrated two medical products. There’s a Bittium Wearable Platform for Health Monitoring that measures stress, fatigue, and sleeping quality, as well as Faros ECG Event and Faros ECG Mobile software for remote heart monitoring.
The Bittium Tough Mobile hardware appears to be unchanged. It runs Android 6.0, up from Android 5.1, on Qualcomm’s quad-core, 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801. The phone is equipped with 2GB LPDDR3, 16GB eMMC, and a microSD slot. The glove-usable 5-inch HD touchscreen is joined by 8- and 2-megapixel cameras.
The 180-gram, 13.5mm thick phone has dual SIM slots, and supports 4G LTE and other cellular standards, including LTE band 14 for public safety. There’s also WiFi-ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, a push-to-talk (PTT) button, and aGPS/Glonass, iZAT positioning.
The Bittium Tough Mobile supplies a full slate of non-healthcare sensors, as well as a USB 3.0 port, speakers, a noise-cancelling mic, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a 2420mAh Li-Ion battery. The cast magnesium unibody design features MIL-STD-810G shock resistance, IP67 water and dust protection, and -20 to 55ºC operation.