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Researchers Say Carrier IQ Isn't Logging Data, Texts 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-our-pitchforks-are-all-polished-and-sharpened dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "Security researchers who have investigated the inner workings of the Carrier IQ software and its capabilities say the application has some powerful, and potentially worrisome capabilities, but as it's currently deployed by carriers it doesn't have the ability to record SMS messages, phone calls or keystrokes. However, the researchers note there is still potential for abuse of the information that's being gathered, whether by the carriers themselves or third parties who can access the data legitimately or through a compromise of a device. Jon Oberheide, a security researcher who has done a lot of work on Android devices, also analyzed several versions of the Carrier IQ software and found the software has the ability to record some information, but that doesn't mean it's actually doing so. That part is up to each individual carrier. However, he says the ability to collect such data is a dangerous thing. 'There is a lot of capability to collect sensitive data, which is dangerous in any scenario,' Oberheide said in an interview. 'It's up to the carriers to use the software as they choose, but you could sort of put some blame on Carrier IQ. But they put it on the carriers.'" For those who don't want to trust in the good will of Carrier IQ or carriers themselves, here are a couple ways to get it off your phone.
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Researchers Say Carrier IQ Isn't Logging Data, Texts

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:55PM (#38274164)
    Something that's been bugging me lately is the recent trend of URLs that are optimized for SEO.

    Here are three random articles from the front page of Slashdot, Reuters, and TheStreet.com:

    Once upon a time, the important part of the URL - the identifier of 2225202 [slashdot.org] at Slashdot, idUSTRE7B019B20111205 [reuters.com] at Reuters, and 11332765 [thestreet.com] at TheStreet - was all that a potential URL-logger got to see. URLs were not only shorter, they had meaning relevant only to that one particular site's CMS, and it required Yahoo/Google/Bing/government-sized resources to follow every such link and map URLs to content on scales as big as "everyone who uses the WWW".

    Except that nowadays, most URLs are rewritten with-redundant-text-for-SEO-purposes. Slashdot's URLs say researchers-say-carrier-iq-isnt-logging-data-texts [slashdot.org] Reuters' URLs say us-russia-election [reuters.com] and TheStreet's URL says its-official-facebook-buys-gowalla-team.html [thestreet.com].

    All of a sudden, if I have access to the URL stream, I can now figure out that you're interested in Carrier IQ's spyware, the Russian elections, and whatever Facebook is up to this week -- with nothing more complicated than "grep".

    I'm not advocating tinfoil haberdashery: there's no grand conspiracy of webmasters to make clickstreams greppable. It's merely a regrettable (for end user privacy) side effect of the relentless push towards SEO that organizations like Carrier IQ can get a lot more "interesting" information out of a user's clickstream than they would have been able to do as recently as two years ago.

  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:11PM (#38274354) Journal

    If CarrierIQ is making money from studying my behaviors, then I want a cut or I want to uninstall their craptastic software. I should not be forced to consume software I do not want. If Android wants analytics, then build it into Android OS. My relationship is with my phone manufacturer and the OS manufacturer. I should be able to decide what other relationships I want. CarrierIQ can contact me if they think their software somehow adds value to my experience. Otherwise, do more testing.

    Just to be clear, CarrierIQ didn't put the software on your phone. Your mobile phone provider, with whom you do have a relationship, put it there. If you feel that is a violation of said relationship, take it up with them. No one forced your provider to install CarrierIQ.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:40PM (#38274666) Homepage

    Actually, the trend of late is to use customers as additional products for sale often without the consent of the customers who are being [ab]used. It may take some doing to get law to reflect the moral problems of this sort of thing, but you can bet if the kind of data they are collecting on others was collected on the perpetrators and made public, it might make a few of them a bit upset to the point to taking legal action. No one want this done to them and especially not the ones doing it. So the morality of all this is certainly not in question. Now we just need some "do unto others" put into law.

    Someone needs to go to jail to stop the avalanche of "me-too-ism" on this gold rush to exploit consumers.

  • by clonehappy (655530) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:53PM (#38275298)
    Here's the thing. I think this whole CarrierIQ debacle is being played up in the media for exactly the reason stated in the title, because it ISN'T logging data, texts. It really isn't sending your data back to the carrier, government, or whomever. What it does, is far beyond the understanding of the average consumer of the nightly news. So the media will trot out the experts who say, "This software does not send your data back to the carrier, it just hooks the keyboard for diagnostic purposes at a level beneath the userland of the Android operating system."

    And, whoosh.

    In the minds of the masses, it was harmless.

    But it isn't harmless. The software certainly has the capability of monitoring/logging/reporting every keypress on the phone and sending it to whomever it's configured to send it to. No one outside the "slashdot-esque" crowd knows much about rootkits, system hooks, etc. etc., however. But now, whenever someone mentions the fact that phones are spying on you, everyone can come out and say "No, they're not. Didn't you hear? CarrierIQ was harmless. You're a tinfoil-hat nutter!" Even though they still will be monitoring everyone, either through this method, ones hidden better, at the switching center, or voluntarily (Facebook, etc.) And it'll be business as usual.

    Right now, you can be pretty certain your phone isn't doing any real, wholesale spying, since to transport that amount of voice/video, or whatever type of data will kill your connection and drain your battery faster than you can say "fourth amendment" (until you connect to wi-fi, of course). The real trojan horses are the 4G networks. Especially once LTE connections are the norm, it will be trivial to log a tremendous amount of real-time "intelligence" (because that's exactly what these phones are, intelligence gathering tools) and quickly whisk it up to whomever wants to see your data without you noticing. I'm sure it'll be as simple as someone in a spook hideout pressing a button and, voila, the 4G network is providing them a real-time peek and listen into your life.

    They're not kidding: Intelligence Everywhere! [blogspot.com]

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