Silent Circle’s Blackphone line of smartphones are designed to be super-secure devices that run a modified version of Google Android called Silent OS that places an emphasis on privacy and security.

But it’s hard to ensure that a device is secure if it’s purchased from an unauthorized seller, since the “Blackphone” you buy from eBay (or other unauthorized stores) might be a knockoff of a genuine device that’s been modified to be less secure.

So Silent Circle has rolled out a software update to Silent OS that prevents the operating system from working on devices that are “identified as unlicensed.”

The move could come across as hostile toward users… but since the company’s entire raison d’etre is to guarantee a certain level of security, it makes sense for Silent Circle to take steps to combat the sale and use of unauthorized devices that could potentially put users’ data at risk (and damage the company’s reputation).

That’s probably little comfort to folks who thought they could score a good deal on a Blackphone 2 by ordering one from eBay for $100 less than the full retail price… only to find that it no longer works.

Maybe we’ll start to see custom ROMs bring bricked Blackphone 2 smartphones back to life? There’s already a working custom recovery that you can use to flash firmware on the phone. But you may not get all the features available to users of authorized devices.

For now, the most active discussion in the xda-developers forum for the Blackphone 2 involves people discussing phones that have had features disabled following the update to Silent OS 3.0.8… and phone sellers suggesting users not install the update.

via Ars Technica

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2 replies on “Blackphone sends software update that bricks unauthorized devices”

  1. If Silent Circle is not able to control der Dealers it could not be the fault of the end users.

  2. I see both sides of this debate. If it was just a regular Android phone provider I would say this was a ~!@#$% move. Because it is sold as a secure device the manufacturer has a responsibility to make sure the phones are secure as possible. This is not feasible if phones are coming from unknown sources. Imagine the damage done to Silent Circle’s reputation if a Black Phone is publicly reported to have been breached. It may not have been Silent Circle’s fault if the phone was provided by a third party who decided to add crapware to pad their profit margin. Maybe they can set up a trade-in program for those people who ended up with bricked phones. Give them a good discount on a “real” Black Phone.

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