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Smartphone Roundup: iOS Security Flaw, Blackphone, BlackBerry Q20

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Smartphones: the new geek crack.

What's the latest and greatest news in smartphones? World Mobile Congress is happening right now, and the news has mostly been meh, with companies releasing low-end smartphones to target the entry-level and third-world markets. Those Nokia Android rumors we passed along? True, unexciting, and still confusing -- Microsoft is  undercutting itself and its Windows App Store with low-end Androids.

But, in news more relevant to legal professionals, there has been some scintillating news for the security conscious and the QWERTY-obsessed. Plus, security researchers just found another iOS security flaw -- that's two in a single week.

Secure Android: Blackphone

When you think of Android, you think Google. But, Android is actually its own system, with the popular variants that ship on smartphones carrying a Google-ized layer pasted on top. Nokia's low-end Androids are based on the de-Googled Android Open Source Project, and so is the Blackphone.

If having Google or Microsoft tap into your daily activities spooks you, the Blackphone is where you should be looking. The security-obsessed phone is set to be released later this year for an off-contract price of $629, a steep price that may be worth it, reports Ars Technica.

Android stripped of tracking and spyware. Encrypted phone calls and texts. Two years of security software subscriptions. Firewalls and VPNs. And, of course, a permission manager. All bundled onto a decently high-end smartphone at an off-contract cost comparable to an iPhone. Android compatibility means you'll have access to apps too -- though Google's own apps may not work.

Crackberry is Back

We've declared BlackBerry dead before, but a resurrection may be coming.

Many of us miss QWERTY phone keyboards. Many of us have gone with other companies' phones for app compatibility.

BlackBerry made their phones compatible with Android apps earlier this year, but running Android apps on the current flagship QWERTY phone, the Q10, is awkward due to the small and nearly square screen. The Q20, announced yesterday, has an iPhone 4S-sized 3.5-inch screen, the keyboard, the old-school trackpad, and 'Menu', 'Back', 'Send' and 'End' toolbelt above the keyboard.

An iPhone screen with a 2000s-era BlackBerry keyboard and Android App compatibility? We can't wait for Q3/Q4 2014, when the phone is set for release.

iOS Keylogging Bug

This past weekend, the big bug for iOS (and OS X) was "goto fail," which basically made secure connections useless. The bug was patched for iPhones, iPads, and iPods over the weekend, and computers yesterday.

Today, a security research firm announced that it had found a way to use iOS's multitasking capabilities to install a key and touch-logging app, one that tracks every screen touch, home button press, volume key press, and keyboard typing, and works both on jailbroken and non-jailbroken phones, reports Ars Technica. The danger, of course, is that a hacker can track sensitive data entered by a user, such as passwords or credit card information.

The company is working with Apple on patching the bug, but for now, steer clear of strange apps and close any apps that don't need to be running.

Fiending for some CrackBerry? Join our support group on Facebook.

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