Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

10/16/2012
05:16 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Communication Confidential: Startup Offers P2P Encrypted Voice, Text, Video

Startup Silent Circle rolls out encrypted text, voice, video -- and soon, email -- for the ultra privacy- and security-conscious

PGP email encryption creator Phil Zimmermann has co-founded a new startup offering encrypted communications services for voice, text, video, and email that operates on a new multimillion-dollar peer-to-peer network.

The privately held Silent Circle has invested somewhere between $5 million to $10 million in a custom-built, peer-to-peer network infrastructure that uses end-to-end encryption and erases the session keys after a call or text is finished.

But Silent Circle's services aren't for just anyone: "We're an encrypted communications service targeting high-end services for businesses [and individuals] around the world," says Mike Janke, co-founder and CEO of Silent Circle, which went public yesterday.

The company has four encrypted communications services: Silent Phone, Silent Eyes (for video), and Silent Text (for text messaging). Silent Mail -- encrypted email is on the horizon. The cost is $20 per user per month for all four services, and the services are aimed mainly at users who travel, especially overseas, and need to lock down their mobile devices and other communication.

Among its beta testers: Hollywood stars (not to be named, of course), NATO, and fashion designers. It's for organizations or people tired of "their intellectual property getting ripped off," says Janke, who is one of two former Navy SEALs at the company.

But Silent Circle isn't the first company to come up with a secure, private communications circle approach to privacy: Earlier this summer, startup Wickr rolled out a free app for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch devices that employs military-grade encryption and self-destruction for text, video, and picture messages. The goal of Wickr is to "leave no trace" and to, by default, ensure that online communications are not traceable by governments, corporations, or bad guys, according to the company’s mission.

Silent Circle's Janke says the concept is the same, but the products are different. "[Wickr is] just one app. We have a text app that's very similar to it, but we also are using point-to-point to build our own stand-alone network," he says. "Our product is not trying to be everything for everyone: It's for a select few professionals and individuals around the world," rather than any user, he says.

Security Investigations Inc., a boutique security firm that provides private investigation and physical security consulting services to A-list celebrities, government agencies, and dignitaries, has beta-tested Silent Circle's services. Vern Abila, president of Security Investigations, says his firm plans to use it internally as well as recommend it to its "high net-worth" individual clients,

"They designed it to look just like the iPhone screen for texting and phone calls. That will ensure people will use it a lot more," Abila says. "The peer-to-peer thing is cool ... You can talk on the phone and do video and voice at the same time and be encrypted."

Silent Circle -- led by Zimmermann, who is president -- has stuck with a self-funding model, turning away venture capital in order to remain independent and neutral. It does not store encryption keys, with the exception of its upcoming Silent Mail email service, which will allow users to either create and manage their own PGP keys or have Silent Circle's PGP Universal server generate the keys.

Voice and texting were priority in the rollout time frame. "[Voice and texting are] primarily what people do, and what everybody said they were most interested in" for encrypted communications, says Silent Circle CTO Jon Callas, who co-founded PGP.

The encrypted services initially support 4G and 3G Apple iOS devices, according to company execs; Android support is in the works.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Overcoming the Challenge of Shorter Certificate Lifespans
Mike Cooper, Founder & CEO of Revocent,  10/15/2020
US Counterintelligence Director & Fmr. Europol Leader Talk Election Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/16/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9417
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
The Transaction Insight reporting component of TIBCO Software Inc.'s TIBCO Foresight Archive and Retrieval System, TIBCO Foresight Archive and Retrieval System Healthcare Edition, TIBCO Foresight Operational Monitor, TIBCO Foresight Operational Monitor Healthcare Edition, TIBCO Foresight Transaction...
CVE-2020-15264
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
The Boxstarter installer before version 2.13.0 configures C:\ProgramData\Boxstarter to be in the system-wide PATH environment variable. However, this directory is writable by normal, unprivileged users. To exploit the vulnerability, place a DLL in this directory that a privileged service is looking ...
CVE-2020-15269
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
In Spree before versions 3.7.11, 4.0.4, or 4.1.11, expired user tokens could be used to access Storefront API v2 endpoints. The issue is patched in versions 3.7.11, 4.0.4 and 4.1.11. A workaround without upgrading is described in the linked advisory.
CVE-2019-9080
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
DomainMOD before 4.14.0 uses MD5 without a salt for password storage.
CVE-2020-15931
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner before 5.1 allows remote attackers to capture the Net-NTLMv1/v2 authentication challenge hash of the Domain Administrator (that is configured within the product in its installation state) by generating a single Kerberos Pre-Authentication Failed (ID 4771) event on a ...