Safety specialists are elevating considerations over the “Freedom Cellphone,” a brand new machine touted by outstanding conservatives as each safe and censorship-resistant.
Unveiled on Wednesday by Erik Finman, the world’s youngest bitcoin millionaire, the $500 Freedom Cellphone claims to supply a sequence of sturdy privateness options in addition to an uncensorable app retailer.
Finman states the Freedom Cellphone runs on a customized Android working system often called “FreedomOS” and gives entry to apps resembling Parler, the social media service which had beforehand been banned from app shops within the wake of the Capitol riot.
The telephone’s launch additionally got here alongside quite a few endorsements from common right-wing figures resembling Jack Posobiec and Candace Owens, who each supplied their followers low cost codes for the machine. It stays unclear whether or not both particular person is receiving monetary kickbacks for selling the Freedom Cellphone.
But safety specialists are elevating critical questions in regards to the machine, noting that the web site for the Freedom Cellphone doesn’t present any pertinent info concerning its specs or supply code.
Matthew Hickey, co-founder of the cybersecurity agency Hacker House, instructed the Every day Dot that the Freedom Cellphone seems to be nothing greater than a rebranded Umigami A9 Pro—a Chinese language smartphone that prices as little as $119 on AliExpress.
“This machine is a drop-shipped customizable Android-based telephone,” Hickey mentioned. “They are often purchased and shipped in bulk from Asia with customized logos and branding in order to offer the looks of a telephone that has been designed for a novel goal.”
Hickey added that the telephone is infamous for its poor safety due largely to its use of processors from MediaTek, a Taiwanese firm that gives chips for smartphones.
“I’ve by no means encountered a safe MediaTek machine in my whole life,” Hickey mentioned. “Utilizing MediaTek for something and anticipating privateness or safety is basically flawed.”
Hickey even said that MediaTek’s processors are extensively utilized in smartphones all through North Korea on account of their “extremely customizable nature and low-security barrier,” which permits the regime to simply implement surveillance backdoors.
The Every day Dot reached out to Freedom Cellphone to inquire in regards to the machine’s specs however didn’t obtain a reply. Questions on potential safety points additionally went unanswered.
Different points encompass the Freedom Cellphone’s app retailer, often called PatriApp. The corporate has not defined what protections, if any, have been put in place to make sure that malware is stored from being launched.
“The Google and Apple app shops implement a rigorous code inspection course of earlier than making functions accessible. And while this isn’t foolproof, it helps forestall a variety of frequent malware being loaded onto units,” Hickey mentioned. “The Freedom Cellphone affords an app retailer that guarantees to not censor apps however has not made it clear the way it will carry out this important course of whereas protecting out malware.”
With nearly no info offered in regards to the machine from Freedom Cellphone so far, main questions nonetheless stay. And with out entry to the working system’s supply code, customers received’t know what precisely their telephone is doing within the background.
However maybe they are going to be happy from the shackles of huge tech as they obtain virus after virus.
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*First Revealed: Jul 15, 2021, 3:04 pm CDT
Mikael Thalen is a tech and safety reporter based mostly in Seattle, masking social media, information breaches, hackers, and extra.