LAS VEGAS - If you're serious about securing your smartphone communications, the latest Vysk iPhone case could get you very excited. The Vysk QS1 is being touted as the ultimate encryption case that is so secure, government agencies are reportedly trying (and failing) to crack through it.
Retailing later this year for $229 (and a $10 monthly subscription for Vysk's secure-network service), the QS1was announced earlier this year. Here at CTIA, I got an early look at the iPhone case and was intrigued by its promise and design.
Start with the premise that your phone is susceptible to all kinds of attacks. Your camera could be remotely turned on to see what's around you, your microphone could be hijacked to eavesdrop on you and your calls and texts could be intercepted. Vysk says its QS1 will make all that virtually impossible to do.
The two-part case has mechanical jammers on both ends and clamps onto your iPhone, rendering the mic useless by blocking it from hearing anything. When you make calls, you'll use the mike and audio processor built into the case, which improve call quality for transfer using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The QS1 also packs Bosch speakers for better audio clarity. I didn't get to try making a call during my demo, so we'll have to see how clear this is during a full review.
Also on the case is a processing chip that encrypts your calls and messages before they are transmitted to Vysk's app on the phone. For more security, the calls and texts are sent over Internet via Vysk's network (this is what you pay $10 a month for).
Vysk's system uses a randomization protocol that uses 512-bit encryption and puts the decryption key in a string of random bits, masking it. According to the company, this randomization changes 10,000 times during every transmission, making the key virtually impossible to find. This way, Vysk minimizes the chances that a "man in the middle" attack will be successful.
To prevent unauthorized use of your camera to see your surroundings, the case also features a window that slides over your front and rear cameras when you drag a switch on the top of the case. This slide was easy to move, but on the unit I saw, the switch felt a tad flimsy. This could be different by the time the case is ready for public release.
As if all that wasn't enough, the QS1 also carries an onboard 2,000-mAh battery to provide your iPhone extra juice when you need. The logo at the bottom of the case's rear lights up when you press the button on the bottom left to show how much power is in the spare battery.
Android owners could soon get a QS1 for their devices too. Vysk says it is working on making the QS1 for the Galaxy S5 and expects to produce one for the iPhone 6 early next year.
The company claims the case is almost impossible to hack, and I can't wait to get a crash course on hacking to test Vysk's claims. Stay tuned to see how the QS1 stacks up.
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