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Silent killer: Update to Blackphone's Silent OS intentionally breaks unauthorized devices

The Blackphone 2 from Silent Circle is designed around security. (Source: Blackphone)
The Blackphone 2 from Silent Circle is designed around security. (Source: Blackphone)
The makers of the ultra-secure Blackphone have released an update to Silent OS that prevents the operating system from running on phones "identified as unlicensed."

Security may come with compromise.

Silent Circle, makers of the security-focused Blackphone and Blackphone 2, recently released Silent OS 3.0.8. The update seems to come as a statement Silent Circle made earlier this month warning customers not to buy Blackphone devices through third party vendors. Sellers on eBay and other sites have been offering seemingly authentic Blackphones at steep discounts, but it seems that many of these devices are counterfeits. They are most likely phones made by the same manufacturer and loaded with a custom ROM made to imitate Silent OS.

Silent Circle has been working to stop the sale of these unauthorized devices. Silent OS 3.0.8 looks like the final measure in that plan. Users of phones purchased from third parties are reporting that the update “bricked” their phones. When a phone is “bricked,” core functionality breaks and the phone becomes unusable. In several cases, the phones’ cellular connectivity would fail or the OS would fail to start. Silent Circle has responded by saying this update was intentional and meant to stop unauthorized sales of its devices.

While third party buyers may not be able to use Silent OS 3.0.8 on their Blackphones, some clever folks over at XDA Developers have released a ROM of Silent OS 2.0.8. The ROM reverts the Blackphone to an older build of Android (namely 5.1.1) but restores wireless functionality.

If you purchased a Blackphone from someone other than Silent Circle, this may be an update you want to skip.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 01 > Silent killer: Update to Blackphone's Silent OS intentionally breaks unauthorized devices
Sam Medley, 2017-01-30 (Update: 2017-01-31)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.