Cellcrypt updates mobile encryption app

U.K.-based Cellcrypt Ltd. updated its Enterprise Gateway application on Tuesday to allow traveling business executives the ability to make secure calls to their office phone systems.


The mobile encryption firm said executives working in countries where “phone interception is widespread” can use the application to securely access their Public Branch Exchanges (PBXs), including voicemail and conferencing functions. The application, which takes advantage of the customer’s existing PBX infrastructure, will also give BlackBerry and Nokia users the ability to make encrypted voice calls.


As part of its push to enterprise users, Cellcrypt cited a recent report to U.S. Congress which claimed that state-sponsored cellular interception is being conducted by over 100 countries.


Cellcrypt CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said in addition to these risks, the ability for low-level cyber-criminals to purchase GSM intercept technologies has dramatically increased within the last few years. He added that interception equipment is readily available and can be purchased for only a couple thousand dollars.


“What we’ve seen in the last year is a much greater realization (from enterprises) that when you’re travelling abroad, your calls are at risk,” Bransfield-Garth said.


With its upgraded Enterprise Gateway offering, Cellcrypt is targeting a niche market, said Ken Dulaney, a mobile and wireless analyst with Gartner Research Inc. — “the heads of any companies, government, financial organizations. Anyone with lots of money,” he said.


Dulaney added that while the application is likely a good product for this niche group of organizations and high-ranking executives, most travelers don’t make enough high-security calls to justify the investment.


For Bransfield-Garth, the fit with government, financial and insurance organizations is a no-brainer, but, he added, many travelling sales representatives could also find significant value with the application.


“Think about something as simple as a weekly sales call,” he said. “Quite often you have salespeople joining the calls (on the road) through their mobile phones.”


Andrew Jaquith, a senior analyst serving security and risk professionals with Forrester Research Inc., said call encryption that goes above and beyond what protocols like GSM already provide to the user isn’t something most companies need.


“I agree that there will be cases when an enterprise needs extra assurance, but those cases are few and far between,” he said. “I can’t see a business case for it.”


He added that if encryption is truly vital for a company, applications such as Skype offer similar functionality and run on more smart phone platforms than Cellcrypt does.


As for pricing, Bransfield-Garth said customers will typically pay between $20,000 to $25,000 for the Cellcrypt offering, with the price varying by needed capacity.

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