It has been many years since the BlackBerry was the business phone. Touchscreen phones and the “bring your own device” trend put an end to that. But the concept of dedicated mobile hardware for businesses and governments with above-average security vulnerabilities has not yet entered tech history.

Brazilian software company Sikur has been pushing the concept since 2015, when it released a smartphone with a locked/hardened version of Android, calling it GranitePhone. This was followed up in 2018 with the SikurPhone.

Now, at Mobile World Congress 2022, the company is showing off a new hardened and “certified” Android handset, which has been given the somewhat misleading name Sikur One. (But that’s marketing to you.)

It calls the device a “zero-trust concept” – because of a suite of “Sikur engineer-certified” features touted to “enhance defenses and encrypt confidential information at source,” as it puts it.

Ingrained security features include device encryption; a default block when installing apps from third-party stores; and a hard-block on location services — the latter, of course, is notoriously tricky to disable on vanilla Android thanks to Google’s multi-layered settings and massive appetite for user data.

Sikur’s “Android Verified Boot” also removes built-in system apps to further reduce the attack surface and/or keep the device “lightweight and secure” as the PR puts it.

And despite getting rid of some off-the-shelf software, Sikur says the handset is “completely configured and ready to use”, while further claiming it has “the same usability as a regular device”. (Maybe that depends on exactly what you want to use it for.)

The build also comes with a locked bootloader and over-the-air (OTA) patching for apps and the OS to ensure it’s always up to date, rather than leaving it up to users to remember to push a manual update, causing security vulnerabilities in the meantime.

Sikur further touts a “passwordless authentication token feature” – which he says could help prevent phishing and malware attacks. Default network settings have also been modified with security in mind. (Plus, you get Sikur’s secure VPN to shield connections to unsecured Wi-Fi.)

Remote locking and wiping is also on board, as you’d expect.

The device comes with Sikur Messenger as the default communication app. The company’s end-to-end encrypted messaging app is intended as the secure business chat app (with support for messaging, voice, video calls, etc.), as well as for file storage and sharing, where data kept in a secure, private location. cloud.

Granted, this level of secure communication will only be available within the Sikur Messenger micronetwork, so only employees equipped with a device running the software can participate. (Although the messenger app is also available for standard Android, iOS, and Windows, so no mobile hardware from the company is required to access it.)

As for the specs, the Sikur One has a 6.5-inch screen, an octa-core processor running Android 11 and a 4000 mAh battery.

It is a 4G device (not 5G), with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage (an expansion slot supports up to 512 GB).

There are also front and rear cameras and dual SIM support.

Color option: Stealth. (Black, of course.)

“Ordinary devices are open and prone to changed configurations and can contain apps that can damage the system and introduce malware, opening doors to data breaches and espionage. With Sikur One, even a connection through public networks, such as at airports or restaurants, is protected,” said Fabio Fischer, CEO of Sikur, in a statement.

The handset is a collaboration between Sikur and Brazilian electronics maker Multilaser.

Pre-sales for the device — which Sikur targets at “large corporations and government organizations,” entities that may be concerned about both security and wider compliance with privacy regulations such as the European GDPR and its Brazilian equivalent, LGPD — will begin this week, per a spokesperson.

“Devices are sold in Latin America, the US, Europe and the Middle East,” he said, adding that “Brazil and the US are our biggest markets so far.”

Sikur told us that the company has sold about 35,000 handsets since 2015.

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