Skip to comments.BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps
Posted on 11/30/2011 10:51:57 AM PST by ShadowAce
An Android app developer has published what he says is conclusive proof that millions of smartphones are secretly monitoring the key presses, geographic locations, and received messages of its users.
In a YouTube video posted on Monday, Trevor Eckhart showed how software from a Silicon Valley company known as Carrier IQ recorded in real time the keys he pressed into a stock EVO handset, which he had reset to factory settings just prior to the demonstration. Using a packet sniffer while his device was in airplane mode, he demonstrated how each numeric tap and every received text message is logged by the software.
Ironically, he says, the Carrier IQ software recorded the hello world dispatch even before it was displayed on his handset.
Eckhart then connected the device to a Wi-Fi network and pointed his browser at Google. Even though he denied the search giant's request that he share his physical location, the Carrier IQ software recorded it. The secret app then recorded the precise input of his search query again, hello world even though he typed it into a page that uses the SSL, or secure sockets layer, protocol to encrypt data sent between the device and the servers.
We can see that Carrier IQ is querying these strings over my wireless network [with] no 3G connectivity and it is reading HTTPS, the 25-year-old Eckhart says.
The video was posted four days after Carrier IQ withdrew legal threats against Eckhart for calling its software a rootkit. The Connecticut-based programmer said the characterization is accurate because the software is designed to obscure its presence by bypassing typical operating-system functions.
In an interview last week, Carrier IQ VP of Marketing Andrew Coward rejected claims the software posed a privacy threat because it never captured key presses.
Our technology is not real time, he said at the time. "It's not constantly reporting back. It's gathering information up and is usually transmitted in small doses.
Coward went on to say that Carrier IQ was a diagnostic tool designed to give network carriers and device manufacturers detailed information about the causes of dropped calls and other performance issues.
Eckhart said he chose the HTC phone purely for demonstration purposes. Blackberrys, other Android-powered handsets, and smartphones from Nokia contain the same snooping software, he claims.
The 17-minute video concluded with questions, including: Why does SMSNotify get called and show to be dispatching text messages to [Carrier IQ]? and Why is my browser data being read, especially HTTPS on my Wi-Fi?
The Register has put the same questions to Carrier IQ, and will update this post if the company responds. ®
How many of you DO NOT USE CELL PHONES?
Just wondering if there was anyone left besides me.
Boom beyotches! bump
I rarely have a minute to myself as it is, so I don’t have one either.
So who is monitoring this flow of information and where in the h*ll are the memory banks? They must be the size of small towns.
Probably the same people who are looting the treasury.
...Try to limit them to emergencies only. I will be hung by the IFG or by some FReepers for my replies on FR Threads.
Things like this make me consider going back :\
Then again, I doubt landline phones are any better.
I only use mine occasionally for outgoing calls only.
I got rid of mine. Service is way too expensive. Between that and the satellite tv service I got rid of, I probably save at least $150 a month. Besides, my company gave me a cell phone, but I don’t use it. It usually sits uncharged in my backpack.
So what exactly does this mean?
Tempest in a teapot.
I’m sticking with the new Windows Phone
They are everywhere. Look for intersections of power and transportation networks (optical fiber is installed on both power lines and RR rights of way). The data centers need huge amounts of power. They are the nondescript but huge buildings with no windows or signs on them and high security surrounding them. They are everywhere.
You don’t have to save all of it, depending on the value of the information. Where I’ve been and my passwords aren’t of much value...but for specific other people, the value could be very high. The point is that they’re getting this information without any permission or knowledge of the user, and that is an invitation to “be evil”.
I have a regular cell phone connected by bluetooth in my car and that’s it.
If they were up front about what they track, and people didn't mind, that's fine. People like some on this thread who say they have nothing to hide will just accept that someone out there has every text, call and payment they make. But it should be disclosed to people so they can decide for themselves. Otherwise, it is a constitutional violation if collected by the government, and a civil invasion of privacy if done by a commercial entity.
I'd be fine with a huge suit against the companies involved in this.
You imply the fed gov is pushing the comms companies for this, but then you want to sue the companies?
Why not sue the fed gov? Why kill companies?
If the fed gov is pushing them, suing them will do no good.
No, you are the only one. And now we know who you are and how to find you.
No cell phone except for emergencies while travelling. Not a smart phone, whatever they are.
here is there number, I called to ask if there software was on my phone, she said she would have someone call me back, here is the phone number if you wish to do the same;
CARRIER IQ, Inc.
1200 Villa Street, Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94041 USA
Phone: +1 650 625 5400
You are right, if the government is the problem, then I would sympathize with the companies, and they might have a defense. Only a lawsuit would allow such information to come to light, though. If they are doing this on their own, they are in big trouble. A lawsuit against the feds would not be likely to succeed. You need civil discovery to get the facts out first.
how does one block or remove it?
(people please save the smart alec remarks)
passing it along fyi
I would have to include myself because, even though I have a cell phone, it’s a Motorola and very, very old (e.g., has a pull-out antenna). A guy at the car wash saw me using it and laughed like a loon.
In two years I am dumping mine for a land line. I am tired of cell phones.
As long as the call quality stays the same or gets worse, I cant see me needing one too bad. The Motorola bag phones worked great but looked like a Samsonite carry on.
All the tin foil paranoia aside, I just hate the damn things. Very low quality pieces of equipment, why aren’t they waterproof by now? I need insurance for the thing? All the folks that live on the things have been turned into the rudest people I know.
Is anyone that doesn’t cary one or use it very little under the age of 45? .....40?
“As long as the call quality stays the same or gets worse, I cant see me needing one too bad.”
Same here, the quality is horrible. I sometimes borrow my mom’s when I’ve let the house phone go dead. Besides poor sound [an echo down in a drum sound] if I have to stay on it for any length of time, it burns my ear. And it’s supposed to be one of the best.
University town. Driving through the city I sometimes play a game with myself (no, not pocket billiards) betting myself $5 for each young woman I see walking who’s not as I pass her leashed to a cellphone. I seldom lose.
It would probably be more of a game to count the ones who don’t have phones.
But I’ve done that myself and it’s a pretty good mix of men, women, lots of teens around here. They seem oblivious to everything around them.
Most of my FReeping is done on a smartphone.
I don't use mine. After knowing-for-sure, when I was a kid, that someday, we would all be able to have portable phones that we could carry in our pockets, it came true!
Now, I always forget to pick the damned thing up and take it with me when I leave the house ................................. FRegards
No Such Agency ;)
Ft. Meade, MD and San Antonio, TX
Investor Alert: Short Carrier IQ. They be dead!