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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

DarkMatter takes mobile phone security to the next level

Exclusive: Abu Dhabi start-up showcases latest version of its super-tough Katim device designed to be hack proof

DarkMatter Group launched an upgraded ultra-secure smartphone for extreme conditions.
DarkMatter Group launched an upgraded ultra-secure smartphone for extreme conditions.

DarkMatter, the Abu Dhabi-based cybersecurity firm with high-profile government contracts, is eyeing Asian markets for export of its latest hack-proof smartphone later this year.

At the five-day International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, the start-up showed the second-generation of its Katim phone. The firm is positioning its use in sectors including defence, security, mining, oil and gas, construction, emergency services and disaster relief, Karim Sabbagh, chief executive of DarkMatter, told The National in an interview in Abu Dhabi. The first batch of Katim R01, as the latest version is known, will be sold in the UAE while the second batch can meet demand from abroad.

“Where we’ve seen interest coming is largely in Asia and this is without us doing any concerted efforts, because it’s matter of fulfilling the demand that exists currently in the UAE,” he said. “There’s been local and international interest. We already have commitments.

“Katim R01, the total volume of the first batch, is spoken for.”

Darkmatter has produced “thousands” of Katim R01 units, twice as many as the first-generation Katim phone that it revealed in February 2017, according to Mr Sabbagh, who declined to specify the production numbers.

“The second generation, that has been manufactured in larger volumes than initial one.”

DarkMatter engineers tested the phone’s ability to perform in harsh outdoor conditions, partly by driving over it with a truck.

“You can run over it or leave it in water for 30 minutes, it will still operate,” Mr Sabbagh said.

“The discerning factor here is extreme field conditions,” he added. “What you want is a phone that has all the smartphone functionalities ... [with] uncompromising security and the readiness to operate productively outside."

Mr Sabbagh said the ultra-secure phone is “tough on the outside and tougher on the inside” so it cannot be hacked.

On the timing of exports of the Katim 01 phone, he said: “At the moment we’re designing the business model for this because it means you’re deploying some of your capabilities internationally, our ambition is we’ll start with this during the second half of 2019.”

The military communications market is expected to grow from $31.50 billion in 2018 to $37.67bn by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 per cent, according to a report by marketandmarkets.

The market is primarily driven by the increasing procurement of military communication solutions due to growing disputes among countries across the world and the need to modernise and replace ageing communication equipment.

Updated: February 17, 2019 07:15 PM

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