So far this year, the surreptitious capture of audio and visual data via smartphone cameras and microphones has negatively impacted the world’s richest person and a beloved trillion-dollar company. It’s safe to say that awareness of this issue has reached the mainstream, increasingly forcing individuals, enterprises and product makers to change how they operate. To see how the trajectory of smartphone surveillance has changed even in the last several months, I think it would be helpful to look back at my 2019 predictions as a starting point.
In August, we conducted our annual survey designed to gauge attitudes about mobile security and privacy. In looking behind this year’s numbers, I was struck by how shifting perspectives seem to mirror the goings-on in the world of Apple. As a trillion-dollar company and the maker of the ever-popular iPhone, Apple has a metaphorical magnifying glass on everything it does, good or bad.
Think of the last time you received a sensitive piece of information. Perhaps it was news of a highly anticipated project at work finally getting the green light, or maybe a not-for-public-consumption update about a friend’s pregnancy. Now recall what you did with that information. Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with a significant other or trusted friend?
There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!
- a line from the 1992 film Sneakers
I’m happy to share that the Air Force, through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, has awarded Privoro a prototyping contract for our government smartphone security solutions. You can learn more by reading our press release announcing the contract.
Organizations concerned about sensor abuse are now adopting the Privoro SafeCase™, a first-of-its-kind mobile security solution companion for smartphones that not only provides its own set of trusted sensors but also protects against illicit audio/video capture by hijacked cameras and microphones.
As a mentor, investor, and longtime player in the tech industry, I’m frequently asked which market segments I’m betting big on over the coming decade. My knack for spotting market transitions and the technologies that will fuel these shifts partially stems from my relentless focus on outcomes. That’s why I approach investing like a multiplayer chess game; I play out the entire game, replay various scenarios and anticipate others’ moves before I make the decision to invest my time and resources.
In our discussions with federal employees working under smartphone bans at the Pentagon and other high-value buildings, there’s a common theme that emerges: frustration.
In the last 12 months, the threat of compromised smartphone cameras and microphones has taken on bigger real estate in the public consciousness, transforming from a largely abstract fear into a real, widespread and potentially devastating problem. The bad news is that this problem will get worse before it gets better. The good news is that security-centric organizations are looking for ways to proactively defend against this threat. So what will the next 12 months hold in store? Below, I’ve outlined six mobile security predictions for the coming year.
Last month, we released our second-generation product, the Privoro SafeCase, which is compatible with the iPhone 7 and 8. While SafeCase can be used by organizations for a variety of use cases, smartphone counter-surveillance protection is a core functionality. The case blocks the host smartphone’s cameras and actively masks each of the microphones with randomized noise. At Privoro, we believe that only physical, verifiable protections can overcome the threat of hijacked smartphone sensors targeting national security agencies, publicly traded companies and high-profile individuals.