Russia firm unveils ‘surveillance-proof’ smartphone

A view of a TaigaPhone, a brand new smartphone created by InfoWatch Group. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2017
0

Russia firm unveils ‘surveillance-proof’ smartphone

Moscow: For Russians who fear that someone may be eavesdropping on their phone conversations, leading IT entrepreneur Natalya Kaspersky says she has a solution.
At a business forum in Moscow on Friday she presented “TaigaPhone,” a brand new smartphone created by InfoWatch Group, her software development company, costing around 15,000 rubles ($260).
The TaigaPhone is entirely green to represent the Russian northern forest after which it is named and has a five-inch touch screen.
“We have created it for the corporate market,” said Kaspersky, president of InfoWatch Group and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s leading antivirus software development company which some believe may have links to Russian intelligence.
Kaspersky Lab has over the past months been at the center of controversy in the United States.
In July, the US government removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors, weeks after top US intelligence agency and law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the safety of its software.
But no evidence has been presented to back up vague assertions that it might be a tool of Moscow, offering Russian spies back-door entry into computers worldwide.
The company has repeatedly denied working with any government agency.
The TaigaPhone is not the first Russian-made smartphone. YotaPhone, which first appeared on the market in 2013, is back this year with a new device: the YotaPhone 3.
InfoWatch wants to sell TaigaPhone to Russian companies at a cost of between 12,000 and 15,000 rubles, almost five times cheaper than the cost of an iPhone in Russia.
“Half of all data loss in Russia happens on mobile devices, we intend to fix that problem with the TaigaPhone,” company representative Grigoriy Vasilyev told investors at the forum.
InfoWatch says the device can guarantee the confidentiality of all TaigaPhone users, track the location of each device and prevent information leakage.


SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

This artist's illustration courtesy of SpaceX obtained September 17, 2018, shows the SpaceX BFR(Big Falcon Rocket)rocket passenger spacecraft. SpaceX is to reveal on September 17, 2018 the identity of the first person it plans to transport around the Moon in an ambitious project financed entirely by its eccentric CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018
0

SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

  • SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world
  • SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets

HAWTHORNE, California: SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.
A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.
The first passenger to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.
In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalizing details about the trip and the passenger’s identity, but left major questions unanswered.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted a picture of a Japanese flag. He followed that up on Sunday with tweets showing new artist renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that Musk promises will shuttle the passenger to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, using the hashtag #OccupyMars.
While the BFR has not been built yet, Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.
SpaceX plans a lunar orbit mission. It was not clear how much Maezawa paid for the trip.
Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co. Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit..
With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.
Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.
Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.
SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the US Department of Defense.
SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
SpaceX previously announced plans to eventually use Falcon Heavy to launch paying space tourists on a trip around the moon, but Musk said in February he was inclined to reserve that mission for the BFR.