If a company or person wanted to have highly-secure data or voice communications on their smartphone or tablet, they had to install an “over-the-top” software package and establish a separate password or key for the secure path..
Now Vodafone Germany, who is part of the Vodafone mobile-telephony conglomerate, have worked on a SIM-based setup that they can easily provide as part of a value-added service. This is based around all the passwords and keys being part of the SIM card and software held on the handset making use of these keys along with native apps to provide the secure tunnel.At the moment, this is offered to larger corporate and government customers but could be offered to small business accounts especially as some of these businesses also provide goods and services to the large corporate and government user base
One reason I would suspect that Vodafone have worked on this concept is to provide an easy-to-deploy end-to-end encryption service for consumers and small business in the wake of the Snowden affair. At the moment, the setups would be designed to work with Android devices but with Blackberry and Windows Phone ports being considered. In the case of Windows Phone, this could allow for the concept to be taken further to Windows-based tablets, laptops and desktops which are used for a lot of business computing.
A limitation that I see with the SIM-based solution is that it is dependent on a device having an integrated 3G or 4G modem thus wouldn’t be considered truly “transport independent”. I see this as being of importance as people use Wi-Fi hotspots provided by many different venue hosts and not many of these are kept secure by the venue owners thus making the customers’ data vulnerable. Similarly, this will also be of concern for client-to-box VPN setups where the “other end” of the VPN tunnel connects to the Internet via a fixed WAN connection like cable, DSL or fibre-optic.
This could be a step for mobile carriers and telcos to provide the encryption needed for secure communications especially in the wake of some serious spying scandals.