Skip to comments.BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps
Posted on 11/30/2011 2:14:08 AM PST by Mount Athos
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. ®
details could prove useful for those who aren’t techies
Win7 has back doors put into the OS at the request of our US intel agencies.
“Buy disposable phones, use them and toss them.”
I never quite understood how that has more than limited utility. It’s useful to a point as long as everybody doesn’t do it, but if everybody does it how do you keep up with the constantly changing phone numbers in order to call the people you want to call?
Why yes, now that you mention it, I think they did. In that case, AFAIK, only the privacy of location data was at issue. We are told here that CIQ is also a key logger and even a voice "wiretap."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.I notice the omission of any claim that CIQ spyware is in the iPhone.
Where is the app to kill this?
You site that the MS OS's have this built in and Linux is more secure, but the story here is about Android having it - which is Linux based.
True.....there are several versions of LINUX however, and Android doesn’t use a full blown version.