American markup: Smartphones sold outside the U.S. are significantly LESS expensive and MORE secure

A new smartphone created by a Russian company is “surveillance-proof” and five times more affordable than smartphones sold in the United States.

InfoWatch Group, a Russian information technology (IT) company, has introduced the TaigaPhone which is a surveillance-proof smartphone designed for corporate use. The company claims that the privacy features built into the phone ensure user confidentiality and will only cost about 12,000 to 15,000 rubles or up to $260. The latest iPhone models, iPhone 8, iPhone 8plus, and iPhone X, cost about $699 to $999, which is almost five times more expensive than the TaigaPhone.

Software developer and entrepreneur Natalya Kaspersky has said in a business conference in Moscow, Russia that her company’s TaigaPhone is the solution for anyone who fears being eavesdropped on their phone calls. Kaspersky is also the co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, a leading Russian antivirus IT firm that has been associated to have Russian intelligence and has been controversial in the United States over the past months.

The Russian-made smartphone is green in color to symbolize the Russian northern forest, taiga, after which it was named. Kaspersky says that the smartphone is currently in its last stages of production.

“Half of all data loss in Russia happens on mobile devices, we intend to fix that problem with the TaigaPhone,” says Grigoriy Vasilyev, company representative, during the business conference.

InfoWatch Group claims that the smartphone will keep the confidentiality of all users of TaigaPhone to prevent any leakage of information.

The TaigaPhone‘s main task is to protect information from leaks from mobile phones through monitoring the camera, voice recorder, hardware, applications, messengers, mail, web traffic, and social networks. Furthermore, the company writes that 67 percent of companies encounter a leak of confidential corporate information because of mobile devices. It claims that their smartphone will also help prevent financial losses, protect the reputation and name of the company, and protect its competitiveness. (Related: Software security group demonstrates how hackers can use ransomware to harm and potentially kill hospital patients.)

The TaigaPhone is a five-inch touch screen device that runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It has a four-core processor, 16 gigabyte (GB) of internal memory, two GB RAM, two SIM cards and SD cards up to 64 GB.

The controversy with Kaspersky

In June, U.S. senators sought to ban Kaspersky and its products from military use because of fears of Russian government influence and that Russia may use the products of the company to attack American computer networks in JuneAlthough the firm have repeatedly denied these allegations, the U.S. Senate voted to ban the company for use by the federal government because it posed a national security risk in September.

The vote seeks to codify and expand the decision of the Trump administration to order civilian government agencies to stop using the products of Kaspersky Lab. The bill would have to pass the House of Representative before it would be signed into law. If passed, it would ban the use of Kaspersky Lab products in civilian and military services.

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