Google's Project Vault is a tiny computer on a MicroSD card for sending secret messages

Google Project VaultBusiness Insider/screen capturePeiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko shows off Google Project Vault

Google on Tuesday showed off what has to be one of the smallest computers ever: Project Vault.

This is a full computer packed onto a micoSD card, those tiny cards typically used to add extra memory to your smartphone or digital camera.

And that means it can slip into the MicroSD slot of your smartphone or PC. It’s main function: to encrypt your communications so snoops — be they hackers or the NSA — can’t eavesdrop. Such secret communication requires both phones to be using a Project Vault device, according to a demo showed on stage at the Google I/O developers’ conference happening this week in San Francisco.

Google says the device can also be used to encrypt video and as an alternative for passwords. It released a software-development kit for Vault, asking developer attendees to get creative and build apps for it.

While it one day might be of interest to consumers, Google says it aiming it first at business users. A lot of industries, from health care to finance, are required to encrypt and secure their communications.

Even though Project Vault is the size and shape of a tiny memory card, it has an ARM-based processor, wireless communications (in this case, NFC) and an antenna.

Just as interesting, the project was led by Peiter Zatko, the former head of 1990’s hacker group L0pht, who famously testified in 1988 to Congress that his group could bring the internet down in 30 minutes. He had been working at DARPA prior to joining Google in 2013.

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