Before the National Security Agency began complaining about being shut out of encrypted devices, it helped develop software for secure communications that could be adapted by the private sector. The NSA technology was developed for Top Secret Classified Communication and will now be available to the public later this month in the form of a smartphone application called Scrambl3 from a California startup which claims its “dark Internet tunnel” thwarts snooping on voice calls and messages.
Scrambl3 was launched Monday as a stand-alone app for Android devices by the startup, USMobile, which describes it as a way to create “trusted connections on untrusted networks.” Scrambl3 uses technology stemming from the NSA “Fishbowl” project—technical specifications of which were released in 2012 by the agency. In a cell phone conversation, both users need to be using Scrambl3 in order to have a secure conversation.
While the system was developed in collaboration with the NSA, it has no “backdoor” access for the intelligence agency, according to USMobile. “We believe the NSA cannot break our encryption,” said USMobile president and co-founder Jon Hanour.
Scrambl3 is available as a free 60-day trial. If the user wishes to continue using it after 60 days will be billed $10 per month for each member on a single account.
Here is the announcement from USMobile:
IRVINE, Calif., June 1, 2015 — USMobile (USmobile.me), a developer of private mobile phone services, today launched Scrambl3 (Scrambl3.com, pronounced “scramble”), a smartphone app that enables its users to create their own Private Mobile Network™.
Scrambl3 is built on a new generation of technology that provides a quantum leap in mobile privacy and security for businesses, government and individuals.
“‘The Dark Internet Tunnel’™ technology employed by USMobile’s Scrambl3 private mobile platform produces an exponential increase in smartphone and tablet privacy compared to existing commercial solutions, providing peace of mind for its users,” said USMobile President Jon Hanour. “Scrambl3 creates trusted connections over untrusted networks.”
When Scrambl3 users communicate with each other, Scrambl3 creates a “Dark Internet Tunnel” between their smartphones. This Tunnel cloaks the calls and texts by making them invisible on the Internet.
Scrambl3 offers ultra-secure protection for sensitive voice and text communications for a broad range of users:
Business Executives. Scrambl3 protects publicly-traded company insider information; substantially reduces the risk of theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, of particular concern in overseas markets; safeguards customer and personnel information, and communications related to litigation and contract negotiations matters; and demonstrates management and governance ‘best practices’ approaches to protecting company information.
Government Officials. Scrambl3 protects global leaders, government employees, law enforcement personnel, and elected officials at a Top Secret and below Top Secret level for classified and sensitive official as well as personal communications.
Individuals. Android phone users, from celebrities to anyone who desires protection from surveillance of sensitive personal matters, from health and medical information to finances to relationships, will find peace of mind with Scrambl3.
Effective today, the Scrambl3 App for Android-based phones is available for a 60-day free beta offering from the Google Play Store. Following the beta test period, USMobile will offer individual Scrambl3 subscriptions for approximately $10 per month. An app for iPhones is currently under development.
Scrambl3 users remain anonymous when they sign-up for an account and choose their private Scrambl3 name. New users only need a valid email address and an Android phone to use this privacy technology – no credit card information is required for the public beta. Scrambl3 further extends the level of privacy of its users by preventing “public lookups” and “friend requests,” which are typical of other mobile networks.
In 2011, USMobile staff began meeting with the National Security Agency (NSA) on a new generation of secure mobile architecture. The “Fishbowl” (secure phone) initiative was designed to protect government Top Secret Classified Communication. Scrambl3, developed using the latest NSA standards for that new generation, is the world’s first and only commercial implementation of those standards. The NSA, for national security reasons, has encouraged commercial development of secure mobile communications in large part to help American businesses protect their valuable intellectual property (IP) from theft, estimated to result in billions of dollars worth of stolen trade secrets and IP.
Inside USMobile’s “Dark Internet Tunnels,” calls and texts made with Scrambl3’s Private Mobile Network are private and secure. And for additional privacy and security, a user’s private network is not interconnected to standard mobile phone numbers, landlines or any other segment of the publicly switched telephone network (PSTN) – thus avoiding U.S. Government bulk surveillance programs that include PRISM and CALEA. While USMobile collaborated with the NSA on this new secure mobile architecture, the company then went on to independently develop its implementation of the architecture and source code; the NSA does not have a “back door” to USMobile’s Private Mobile Network.
“USMobile’s Scrambl3 has implemented the most salient security features of NSA’s ‘Fishbowl’ (secure phone) initiative secure Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) architecture, and has a number of unique characteristics that put it in a class ahead of existing commercial secure VoIP techniques,” said Dr. Yuliang Zheng. One of the world’s foremost cryptographers and a professor of cryptography at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Dr. Zheng conducted an independent analysis of Scrambl3. (See his complete analysis at Scrambl3.com).
Today’s leading solutions/protocols to secure mobile communications (e.g.- SRTP and ZRTP) are missing the first step, which is the most critical and differentiating feature of ‘Fishbowl,’ the creation of a Top Secret grade VPN “Dark Internet Tunnel” to cloak encrypted communication.
The White House has said publicly that it is reviewing use of Android-based smartphones that incorporate the same Top Secret standards and technology that Scrambl3 employs in its Private Mobile Platform.
Instead of dialing up using traditional public phone numbers, Scambl3 users call or text using a private Scrambl3 “Black Book” contact listing available only to them and other users with whom they have privately shared their Scrambl3 name. A Private Mobile Network is only formed after both parties add each other’s Scrambl3 names to their respective Black Books. And for even further privacy, the contacts in each user’s Black Book will disappear when users log out of the Scrambl3 app on their phones.
What makes Scrambl3 so secure?
Scrambl3 employs encryption algorithms and Internet protocols, approved for Top Secret Classified Communication, to create encrypted voice, video and data communication. All encrypted communication is “cloaked” by placing it within USMobile “Dark Internet Tunnels,” which are Virtual Private Networks that employ U.S. National Security Agency’s ‘Top Secret’ Suite B encryption and authentication parameters, part of the NSA’s new generation “Fishbowl” (secure phone) initiative.
For additional peace of mind, no messages, voicemails or call data are stored on Scrambl3 servers, or any other servers. Encryption is maintained end-to-end, providing uninterrupted security of communication traveling between two communicating parties. Scrambl3 users have several deletion and security options to keep private Scrambl3 messages on their phone, including auto-delete and integration with Samsung Knox™, which will encrypt the messages until they are deleted from the phone.
Scrambl3 users can make calls on their Private Mobile Network using both cellular 3G/4G data plans and Wi-Fi.
“In our brave new world, where the details of our lives and businesses are becoming increasingly public through social media, sophisticated marketing techniques and government surveillance, we are seeing a trend toward protecting our privacy,” Hanour said. “We believe privacy is the future, and while people are connecting in positive ways through social networks, we are also seeking privacy solutions to keep our mobile calls and texts confidential.”
USMobile partnered with IBM to assist in the engineering and testing of its high performance server infrastructure on its z Systems™ and Power Systems™ computing platforms. With Scrambl3 Enterprise, businesses and governments can create their own Top Secret grade mobile communications network and mobile Intranet that runs exclusively on their private servers. This disruptive technology will start at just $500 per month for up to 50 users. USMobile and IBM will jointly market Scrambl3 Enterprise solutions to businesses and governments around the world beginning in 2015 Q3.
About US Mobile
USMobile is an Irvine, Calif.-based company founded by a team of engineers with the mission to provide a Private Mobile Network with the highest level of mobile communications privacy and security for its customers.