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Rainer Knirsch

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Telekom: iPhone app with secrecy level

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  • Confidential and encrypted phone calls
  • BSI permits use by government agencies
  • Developed in Germany by Telekom and Berlin GSMK
The picture displays a smartphone. There is a shield above securing the iphone.

The smartphone app secures fonecalls of politcians or public authorities.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has for the first time permitted government agencies to make confidential phone calls via iPhone. The office has approved the Mobile Encryption App for end-to-end encrypted telephony. The application is released for VS-NfD (classified - for official use only) calls. Currently, government agencies mainly use special devices for confidential calls. The app is an alternative to the existing service telephones.

Telekom developed the secure service together with the Berlin-based Gesell-schaft für Sichere Mobile Kommunikation (GSMK). It is aimed at government agencies as well as private companies. Deutsche Telekom operates the infra-structure from its German data centers. The app uses the strongest state of the art encryption currently available. In addition, the app always generates the keys on the phone itself. And deletes them at the end of the call. Encryption keys remain in the hands of the user. The network operator does not access them.

The source code of the Mobile Encryption App is also open. It can be verified by the user. Dirk Backofen, Head of Telekom Security, says: "We make the programming of the app comprehensible. It doesn't offer a hiding place for back doors: This creates trust with the customers."

The Mobile Encryption App works in any telephone network, or else without a SIM card via WiFi. The app's data-usage is small. It requires only 4.8kbit band-width and is therefore suitable for locations with slow networks at home and abroad. For encrypted calls, both parties install the app on the device. A sec-ond SecurePIM Government app is also required. With this app, users can ac-cess the centrally maintained contact database. This is also approved for VS-NfD.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom at a glance
About T-Systems: T-Systems company profile

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