Scrambling the message: AT&T launches encrypted voice service for feds

Anonymity, simplified security process part of AT&T Encrypted Mobile Voice's charm

Federal agencies now have another option for providing their personnel with secure communications. AT&T has launched a new encryption service designed to offer high-level security features for calls on the company’s wireless network. The service is aimed at government bureaus, law enforcement, financial services institutions and international businesses.

The AT&T Encrypted Mobile Voice service consists of a cryptographic engine inserted into a smartphone’s microSD slot. The device combines KoolSpan’s TrustChip and SRA International’s One Vault Voice capabilities into a small, hardened and self-contained unit. Handheld devices equipped with the engine can make automatically encrypted calls to other users within the AT&T secure network.

Developed by SRA, the One Vault Voice application integrates the security functions of the TrustChip with an interface that allows users to place and receive encrypted calls. The tool integrates with a mobile phone’s operating and address book functions to provide an on-demand security function that provides mutual authentication and end-to-end encryption when the high-security call mode is enabled. The Encrypted Mobile Voice meets government standards for controlled unclassfied information, and has National Institute of Standards and Technology FIPS 140-2 validation.

Besides providing encrypted calls, the Encrypted Mobile Voice service also offers its users some anonymity, explained Pat Burke, SRA’s senior vice president of Offerings and Products. Current encrypted handhelds are bulky, awkward to use and advertise the fact that they are secure devices. Because the AT&T system resides on a card, it can make any handheld a secure device, which makes secure calls discrete and increases users’ peace of mind, he said.

Another advantage for the system is that the cryptographic keys are built into the chip, automating the secure call process. Burke noted that SRA is teaming with AT&T for the rollout of the service. Besides the U.S. government sector, the encryption system will next target Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks. He explained that European government and private sector organizations have shown interest in the capability.

The AT&T Encrypted Mobile Voice system currently supports BlackBerry smartphones and Windows Phones on the AT&T wireless network. Burke said that the system will soon include other Code Division Multiple Access mobile devices, such as laptop and tablet computers.

Reader Comments

Wed, Mar 16, 2011 girish joshi india

Specification of Subscriber end encryption device

Mon, Oct 18, 2010

This is a great surprise to see that a company is interested in securing our communications between agency personnel. GREAT Idea guys! There is so much to say for taking responsibility of a type one device when going over seas. This would help the govies out tremendously. Now if you lose this device your not worried about going to jail for lost or stolen item, and it can be deactivated remotely as well. I like it and am for it!! TicK Tock!

Fri, Oct 15, 2010 Guest

This is a typical "good/bad news" item - the good news is that it is encrypted - bad news is that it is AT&T phone service... which isn't good in many areas.

Fri, Oct 15, 2010 Doubter

Uh, the iPhone has no SD slots...and the software would need to have the JSA seal to be available. And with all of the governmental issues with Blackberry's encrypted mail and wanting backdoor methods to monitor, why would this be anymore secure?

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Gary Himert

and maybe the iPhone?

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