Deutsche Telekom encrypts phone calls and hardens tablets

The company's GSMK app for secure calls and messaging will first be available for Android

Deutsche Telekom hopes to address the growing mobile security concerns of enterprises with secured devices and an app that encrypts voice and text messages.

As enterprise users become more dependent on smartphones and tablets for handling sensitive data, there is also a growing desire to improve protection, be that from snooping governments, competitors or hackers that want to wreck havoc.

The latest addition to the operator's portfolio is the GSMK application, which gets its name from the company Deutsche Telekom partnered with for its development. The app is used to encrypt the entire transmission path for voice and text messages and was announced at the Cebit trade show in Hanover. It will first be available for Android-based devices, followed by an iOS version, according to Deutsche Telekom. Pricing was not immediately available.

When two people want to communicate, a central system is first used to set up the session. The two devices then do a Diffie-Hellman method key exchange to be able to encrypt the call or a text message. There is an integrated feature to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, and the app masks the user's location.

Deutsche Telekom isn't the only operator in Germany that sees a demand for secure phone calls and messaging. At Cebit, Vodafone announced a competing product named Secure Call.

Deutsche Telekom also demonstrated an expanded family of devices incorporating its SiMKo 3 technology and aimed at enterprises, authorities and governments that have the highest security demands.

In addition to a customized version of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, a SiMKo version of the Galaxy Note 10.1 is undergoing certification at the German Federal Office for Information Security. A laptop and a Galaxy S5 with SiMKo technology are also planned, according to Deutsche Telekom.

The SiMKo 3 devices have two distinct compartments: a private compartment and a secure work compartment. The work compartment is a completely separate phone running a hardened version of Android in a virtualized environment based on an in-house developed bare metal hypervisor, according to Udo Lorenz, chief sales and marketing officer at Trust2core, the wholly owned Deutsche Telekom subsidiary that developed the software. A crypto card is also used to encrypt communication and information stored on the device, he said.

However, building a secure device isn't just about cryptocards, hypervisors and hardened operating systems, but also making one that's easy to use. To switch between the work and private environments, three slides are needed on the phone and one slide on the tablet.

The operator confident about the level of security that the SiMKo software offers.

"There is only one level of higher security, and that is not using a mobile phone at all," Lorenz said.

Unsurprisingly, the security comes a cost; a SiMKo smartphone costs between €1,700 (US$2,350) and €2,500. Also, export of the devices has to be approved by the German government. Once a company has invested in SiMKo devices, Deutsche Telekom works with it to harden the underlying infrastructure.

"It makes no sense to sell a crypto device and have very open infrastructure in the background," said Deutsche Telekom's Rainer Knirsch.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags telecommunication4gcebitdeutsche telekomCarriers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?