Encryption guru Phil Zimmermann’s new security company, Silent Circle, has opened a UK office to support users of its high-end ultra-secure communications suite.
Opening a London office is a sign that the company is determined to go beyond being a supplier of software at arm's length, a problem in the past with many innovative but small US security startups.
Launched some weeks ago after a June beta, support is bound to be an issue for a security program that charges a monthly subscription fee of $20 (about £13) per month.
For that fee, users get encrypted secure voice, video, text (with email coming) through a dedicated (i.e non-shared) network of servers.
Advertised as the work of a variety of security notables, including the man behind Apple’s whole disk encryption software and a Navy SEAL, its jewel in the crown is Zimmermann himself, a man who has worked in encryption as far back as the famous Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) crypto utility in the mid-1990s.
Consequently, the specification sheet for Silent Circle shows an attention to technical detail that gives it a fighting chance of selling to an emerging class of power users for whom security is a must rather than an option.
Not long ago, the level of security offered by Silent Circle might have looked like a paranoid niche, but as communication has become global it has become obvious that many governments make strenuous efforts to keep citizens under surveillance.
Although the sector is often seen as being popular among criminals and those with something to hide, you only have to look at the the Middle East to grasp the company’s belief that extreme security might now be life and death for some.
The service comprises Silent Phone (for iPhone and soon Android), Silent Text (which can erase traces of IM sessions at both ends), and Silent Eyes (encrypted VoIP and HD videoconferencing); when it arrives Silent Mail will secure email.
“Our London office is a key gateway location for the global community, which will enable us to better serve the private and secure communications needs of both individuals and corporations,” said Silen Circle CEO and co-founder, Mike Janke.
Zimmermann’s previous company sold a VoIP security program, Zfone, based around the ZRTP security protocol of his invention. This made it into some third-party security products as an embedded technology.