As we have said, it is a market often at the borders of legality, also because these devices are particularly used by criminals. Some models, however, are also available through standard commercial channels, while others are sold through direct distributors and cash payment.
We list some of them here, with the warning that - due to the volatility of this market - they may no longer be available. For others, we mention the models although the companies that produced them have been dismantled by police operations.
Those that follow, moreover, are the best known products and those that appear "in the light of day". On whose legality there is no reason to doubt.
There are also other cryptophones sold through more or less clandestine channels and of which it is difficult to obtain information.
Silent Circle Blackphone 2
One of the best known, with proprietary hardware and Silent OS operating system. Calls and messages through Silent Circle servers (for a fee). Launched in 2014 as Blackphone, then in 2015 came Blackphone 2.
Silent Circle directly markets the Blackphone 2 smartphone in North America, while leveraging a network of authorized resellers for distribution in Europe, Middle East, Africa (Kickmobiles and Styx) and Asia (DialogHub).
Despite expectations, sales are going pretty badly (a few thousand pieces sold) and legal proceedings are underway against Geeksphone's former Spanish partners, who had contributed to the realization of the first model.
Sky ECC of SkyGlobal
The Canadian company is among the most important companies in the industry.
Its cryptophone initially used BlackBerry hardware, but now offers also modified iPhones, with costs from 800 € (for iPhone SE) up to 1.760 € (for iPhone 11 Pro) and also Android models (Pixel only). You can buy on their website.
The manufacturer can be contacted by phone (in USA, Canada and UK), by e-mail or on the official website. It uses HTC M8 and Nexus 5 with Secure OS operating system.
Presented at the MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2016 for $1,000. Made on Android base with Secure Granite OS. It was marketed by Mirabilis Group in North and South America and by Logic Instrument of Archos Group in EMEA countries.
X1 and X1 Black by Secure Group
The company that produces the cryptophone was founded in 2009 by Canadian Dominic Gingras, now based in Sofia, Bulgaria. It relies on various partners in Europe, America, Asia, such as DiamondSecure. The operating system is called Secure OS and is Android-based. Prices are not published on the site.
Cryptophones that don't exist anymore
Operation Encrochat hit criminal organizations using Encrochat Cryptophone. It is not clear, as Carola Frediani explains, "whether Encrochat's administrators have been investigated and, if so, identified". It is very likely, however, that Encrochat's network and servers have been dismantled or otherwise rendered inactive. Many other companies selling cryptophones have suffered the same fate. Let's try here to summarize the most known cases:
- Encrochat: used as a base the BQ Aquaris X2 smartphone (produced by a Spanish company) customized with EncroChat OS operating system. It was sold for about 1,000 euros, while the cost of the subscription was 1,500 euros for six months.
- Ennetcom: Dutch company, created in 2009, closed by the Dutch police in 2016. It used modified Blackberry.
- Phantom Secure: Founded by Canadian Vincent Ramos, arrested in 2019 and sentenced to nine years for selling his devices to members of the infamous Mexican drug cartel in Sinaloa. He made both Blackberry-based (Phantom Secure BlackBerry model) and Android-based (Phantom Secure Android model) phones.
- MPC Secure Communication: managed by two professional criminals known as "the brothers". (The Brothers), that is James and Barry Gillespie, since 2019 wanted by the Scottish police. There is not much news about MPC, but it seems that he used Android phones Google Nexus 5 or Nexus 5X on which he implemented his own security features, his own operating system and added a data only SIM card. The phone was sold for 1,200 pounds. Six-monthly renewals cost £700.
- PGP Safe: company from the Netherlands, with servers in Costa Rica, dismantled in May 2017 by the Dutch police, the famous Politie always very incisive in the fight against cybercrime. PGP Safe phones were modified Blackberry and Android phones, sold under subscription for 1,200 euros for the annual license. According to Politie, most of the sales were made in cash on public roads.
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