"People do not seem to understand that security and smartphones as one [single] concept simply do not exist," says Pim Donkers.
Mr Donkers is a co-founder and chief executive of Switzerland's ARMA Instruments, a technology company which produces super-secure communication devices. So, more than most, he is keen to warn people about the potential security weaknesses of their smartphones. He compares a smartphone to a beehive where "third parties fly in and out, to trade and misuse your data [that's] collected through all the sensors onboard". "A smartphone as a starting point in any secure communications solution is a lost cause. It will never happen," he warns.
His profound concern about the privacy shortcomings of smartphones has been supported by a series of recent news stories, most notably revelations about the spy software known as Pegasus, a product of Israel's NSO Group. In July, it emerged that Pegasus can be installed on iPhones and Android devices, allowing operators to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and even secretly activate microphones and cameras. The ability to remotely access a phone was once considered something only a handful of countries could do. But the technology has advanced very quickly and high-end espionage and surveillance powers are now in the hands of many countries and even individuals and small groups.
With such concerns in mind, consumer interest has grown in products with security as their primary selling point - ranging from purpose-built encrypted smartphones to privacy-oriented alternatives to online search engines and maps. Some data suggest that mobile devices are particularly troubling for many people.
A Pew Research Center poll shows that 72% of Americans reported feeling that what they do while using their phone is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies. Nearly half of the people polled by Pew said they believed that most of their online activities are tracked by the government. "We're all inundated with headlines around data breaches, hacks and other intrusions," says Larry Pang, head of business development at IoTex which produces a security camera designed to keep data private. "We are constantly learning that the corporations and governments that have promised to protect us, in fact, do things behind our backs for their own benefit," he says.
Those fears have spurred tech firms to sell mobile devices that bill themselves as 'ultra-secure'. Finland's Bittium sells a phone that includes a privacy mode that disables the device's microphones, camera, and Bluetooth. However, Tero Savolainen, Bittium's vice president, warns that a mobile device is only ever as secure as the person using it. "Even if you have a secure phone, it doesn't mean that you are safe if the user is not educated on how to use the device securely." As an example, Mr Savolainen says giving applications too much access to your device can compromise your security. He adds the same can be said for having an unsecured Google account that can provide a way for cybercriminals, or others, to gain access to data.
Silent Pocket, is a US-based company that produces a range of products, including wallets, laptop sleeves and travel bags - designed to "cloak" devices and block wireless and radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals. While the company had already been expanding for several years prior to 2020, Aaron Zar, Silent Pocket's founder and "director of disconnection" says that sales recently spiked because of concerns over contact tracing during the Covid pandemic. "[People] don't want to be monitored, and that's always been the case. But when it's that on-the-nose and that public, people have been screaming."
Other products in the privacy market are not physical at all. Xayn, for example, is a product described as a "privacy-protecting discovery browser" for the Internet. The company says Xayn allows users to use a Google-style search function without being identified or having their data stored. To date, it has been downloaded by approximately 215,000 users, with the majority coming from the US, followed by the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia.
"Existing approaches essentially track everything a user does when searching online," explains Dr Michael Huth, the head of the computing department at Imperial College London and Xayn's co-founder and chief research officer. "This is particularly obvious with products such as TikTok, where one or two interactions are enough to know the user well enough to feed them videos they like," Dr Huth adds. "This level of tracking, predictive analysis and behavioural modelling challenges not only our sense of control and autonomy, but our actual freedom."
Xayn's other co-founder and chief executive, Leif-Nissen Lundbæk says that demands for privacy are rapidly turning into a "global movement". "The discussion around digital privacy is often focused on what is not possible and sometimes has a certain fatalistic ring to it," he says. "The dominant discourse presents privacy and technology as enemies - but it doesn't have to be this way. Advanced technology can actually protect our digital privacy and give us back our autonomy along the way."
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Published 24 September
Bonjour! We are delighted to announce that ARMA Instruments will participate at the VIRTUAL International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) and trade fair, the leading European event on cybersecurity and digital trust. It will take place from 1st to 4th of June. We will be presenting our ARMA G1 device and its secure communication technology, which will exceed your expectations! E-meet the team for questions, further details and contact.
We encourage you to participate in the FIC 2021 and find out more about the European cybersecurity ecosystem! https://www.forum-fic.com/en/home.htm
See you virtually soon and hopefully also in-person on September 7th ,8th and 9th as we will be attending the physical FIC too, that will take place at the Lille Grand Palais, France.
We will keep you updated!
We are pleased to announce that ARMA Instruments in partnership with Switzerland Global Enterprise will be present at the #MWC21 Barcelona from 28th June – 1st July 2021 to connect with the most influential names in the mobile and technology industry. ARMA Instruments is excited to present its secure patented communicator the ARMA G1, not only as part of the event but also to stimulate and foster collaboration with secure mobile industry influencers and investors.
The Mobile World Congress will showcase exhibitors from global mobile operators, device manufactures, technology providers, vendors to content owners. 2400 leading companies will be present under one roof providing the best place for networking opportunities with mobile and tech industry influencers. https://www.mwcbarcelona.com/
We look forward to seeing you there! Do visit us at the Swiss Pavilion Hall 1 Booth 1H26
In August this year, after two years in the development, the first ARMA G1 prototype units have been manufactured. The bring-up phase is coming to a successful end, with expected demonstratable devices in September 2020. Board bring-up is a phased process whereby an electronics system, inclusive of assembly, hardware, firmware, and software elements, is successively tested, validated, and debugged, iteratively, in order to achieve readiness for manufacturing.
ARMA's recent admission to the AIT Colombia program allows us to further build our network across Latin America. AIT Colombia is a collaboration between the Swiss Federation, the government of Colombia, ICETEX, Swiss university St' Gallen, and the Colombia based university, Pontificia Bolivariana. Special thanks to Dr. Rocío Robinson-Wiedemann and Marvin Scherer at the University of St. Gallen.
Through the Swissnex program, ARMA Instruments is actively engaged with the Swiss embassy in the United Kingdom to explore business opportunities and establish connections within the corporate world as well as the government and defense industry.
ARMA G1 Presentation at the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo North America 2019 Santa Clara Convention Center Silicon Valley. Some of the great reactions we got:
“This is the most exciting product on this whole expo. Where everything else is just buzzwords and much of the same, you guys bring something that has actual public impact.”
“I saw the ARMA G1 at the Santa Clara Expo yesterday! It is a futuristic hardware messenger designed by a paranoid genius!”
We received interest from many high profile government organisations and corporations, ranging from defence and space to the pharmaceutical industry.
We would like to thank everyone for the great feedback and the interest shown.
ARMA Instruments announces a strategic partnership with DDB Unlimited, the multi-award winning branding agency. Together we will develop an impactful worldwide marketing campaign.
DDB Unlimited works for a broad mix of international and local customers including KLM, Adidas, Mars, Ben, Wolford, McDonald's, Unilever, Toyota, Exxon Mobil and PMI. DDB Unlimited is part of DDB Worldwide, top-3 ranking in Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018 and top-3 ranking in The Gunn Report for 12 of the last 15 years. DDB was founded in 1949, has more than 200 agencies in 100 countries and is part of the Omnicom Group, this year named Cannes Holding Company of the Year.
ARMA Instruments will be attending the Cybersecurity & Cloud Expo North America 2019 on 13 & 14 November in Silicon Valley, the high-tech capital of the world. Here we will be launching our high-end ARMA G1.
Our international team will be introducing our patented secure communicator. We are looking forward in meeting you at booth 354.
The Cyber Security & Cloud Expo Europe 2019 will host two days of top level discussion around cyber security and cloud, and the impact they are having on industries including government, energy, financial services, healthcare and more.
Arriving in the RAI, Amsterdam on the 19-20 June, the Cyber Security & Cloud event is co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Blockchain Expo so you can explore the convergence of these technologies in one place.
The Cyber Security & Cloud conference agenda will highlight the most innovative advancements in technologies which are affecting these fields. There will be real life case studies and expert panel discussions within the dedicated tracks Enterprise Cybersecurity, Cyber Intelligence, Regulation and Compliance and Developing Security Solutions.
ARMA InstrumentsDiscover The G1