April 24, 2014, 4:04 AM PDT By Bonnie Cha
Smartphones, just like computers, are vulnerable to hackers, who target mobile devices with malicious software to access your personal information. There are security apps that can help prevent this, but one San Antonio-based startup thinks it has a better solution.
Today, Vysk Communications introduced the QS1, a protective smartphone case that the company claims makes it virtually impossible for others to eavesdrop on and capture phone conversations and also encrypts text messages and photos. It does so by incorporating a proprietary encryption processor and its own microphone into the case. The Vysk QS1 also has two mechanical camera shutters for blocking your phone’s front and back camera.
With the case on, you can activate one of two privacy modes: Private Call Mode and Lockdown Mode.
Private Call Mode requires a $9.95 monthly subscription but gets you the full gamut of security features. With the accompanying Vysk QS app (available for Android and iOS), you can make private VoIP calls to other subscribers over Vysk’s encrypted network. The company says no one will be able to listen in on your call, and no data, such as caller ID, phone numbers and call times, is recorded.
The Vysk QS1 will also generate an untraceable number when making calls to non-Vysk users, and if someone does try to hack into your phone call, they’ll be met with a piercing buzzing sound. Other features of the subscription service include encrypted private messaging, voicemail and pictures, remote wipe and password protection, among other things.
Meanwhile, Lockdown Mode jams your phone’s microphones and blocks the cameras. A subscription is not required to use these features.
But why choose a clunky and expensive ($229) case over one of the free or cheap security and privacy apps?
Vysk believes its hardware approach is stronger because software-based solutions are still vulnerable to malware and hackers. The company also considers the QS1 to be a better alternative to the upcoming Blackphone, since it allows people to keep the phone that they like and use every day.
The Vysk QS1 is compatible with the iPhone 5 and 5S and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Preorders begin on May 15, and the case is expected to ship in early Q4.