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Tom Hardy, No One Needs a $16,500 Phone

Getty Images
Getty Images

Tom Hardy: Mad Max, Bane, the other bear in The Revenant … and low-key spokesman for extreme digital privacy countermeasures. Hardy gave an interview with the Evening Standard this week about the steps he takes to protect himself from hackers, and they are so extra that I am worried he is going to force DiCaprio to start using SecureDrop.

Hardy avoids iCloud, and says he stores data on “private offline servers.” He also uses both a $16,500 “‘military-grade’ encryption” phone and a series of burner phones, the kind you throw away after a few uses.

Hardy says the burner phones are meant to prevent corporate espionage. “You just have to bin and burn the phone and start again, we have to go through burners,” he told the Evening Standard. “We’re burning numbers left, right, and centre.”

That is simply no way to live.

Celebrity hacks are commonplace — within the past week, Mark Zuckerberg and Kylie Jenner had their Twitter accounts taken over. Celebrities who take careful steps to prevent digital intrusion aren’t needlessly suspicious, they’re savvy.

There is no need for a critically respected character actor to live like Stringer Bell. Staying away from iCloud — fine. Good, even. But instead of using throwaway handsets, why not take advantage of cybersecurity-expert-approved software to install on a normal phone? Edward Snowden uses Signal, an encryption app developed by Open Whisper Systems. It provides end-to-end encryption for both messages and phone calls — and it’s free. (This wouldn’t even cost Hardy money! He previously trusted the iPhone 6; Getty snapped him getting set up with one in 2014.)

There is privacy-minded and there is paranoid, and Hardy is living in a gadget-strewn hell of his own making. Even when he isn’t sifting through a sidewalk bin of burners, he’s spending way too much on phone security. Solarin, Hardy’s incredibly pricy phone, is a brand-new entry to the luxury smartphone market, and there are plenty of red flags about what it’s selling. Sure, it comes with 256-bit AES encryption, which is notoriously hard to crack. But so does the iPhone. What’s more, Solarin ships with an old version of Android (Lollipop) and a processor known for overheating issues. The probability that purchasing a Solarin is worth the money is about as likely as Academy Award voters writing Hardy in for Best Actor in a retroactive nod to his stellar performance in The Drop: Sure, you might want it to happen, but it won’t.