• From l-r, Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), president and CEO of AFCEA International, presents the winner’s trophy to Mike Fong, CEO of Privoro, after his company’s technology was chosen as the top competitor in the championship round of AFCEA International’s small business innovative shark tank. Also present are John Kreger of MITRE, chairman of the AFCEA Homeland Security Committee and Tina Jordan, AFCEA vice president of membership.
     From l-r, Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), president and CEO of AFCEA International, presents the winner’s trophy to Mike Fong, CEO of Privoro, after his company’s technology was chosen as the top competitor in the championship round of AFCEA International’s small business innovative shark tank. Also present are John Kreger of MITRE, chairman of the AFCEA Homeland Security Committee and Tina Jordan, AFCEA vice president of membership.

Mobile Device Protection Prevails in Shark Tank

April 26, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
E-mail About the Author

Blocking unwanted signals allows phones entry into secure areas.


A simple piece of wraparound electronic hardware that shields a mobile phone’s sensors from hackers emerged as the top technology in the final competition of AFCEA International’s small business innovation shark tank. The technology allows its user full access to a phone while blocking the smartphone’s cameras and masking surrounding audio.

Developed by Privoro, an Arizona-based startup, the technology is known as SafeCase. Mike Fong, company CEO, described to the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington how a user simply places his or her iPhone into the SafeCase unit, and then chooses the degree of jamming desired.

“We built a high-security, intelligent, cloud-integrated extensible platform that pairs with the mobile device,” he said. “You drop your iPhone into the case. It jams signals unless you want it not to.”

Software-only security is insufficient in the face of hardware-firmware attacks on mobile phones, he stated. The SafeCase teams with the phone to provide intelligent audio masking and camera blocking. It can integrate with an organization’s existing mobile device management solution, allowing permissions to be granted for workers’ smartphones. This avoids the need to equip personnel with special dedicated secure smartphones.

The panel of judges selected Privoro’s SafeCase as the winning entry because of its overall mission effect, they stated. The judges lauded the technologies of all five finalists, saying that choosing among them was difficult. The other competitors were a robotic process automation (RPA) system by Automation Anywhere that relieves workers of mundane tasks; a mobile, boutique-style video simulator from J&F Alliance; a paperback-size multifactor authentication system from Xona Systems; and an RPA system that eliminates repetitive, error prone and transactional work from UiPath.

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