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EFF Reverse Engineers Carrier IQ 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the see-how-it-ticks dept.
MrSeb writes "At this point we have a fairly good idea of what Carrier IQ is, and which manufacturers and carriers see fit to install it on their phones, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation — the preeminent protector of your digital rights — has taken it one step further and reverse engineered some of the program's code to work out what's actually going on. There are three parts to a Carrier IQ installation on your phone: The program itself, which captures your keystrokes and other 'metrics'; a configuration file, which varies from handset to handset and carrier to carrier; and a database that stores your actions until it can be transmitted to the carrier. It turns out that that the config profiles are completely unencrypted, and thus very easy to crack."
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EFF Reverse Engineers Carrier IQ

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:09AM (#38470318)

    ...why would anyone have to crack it? Just open and read it. BRB, I'm going to 'crack' these jpegs of naked ladies.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:16AM (#38470352)

      'crack' is a vague expression. It says that it's unencrypted, which doesn't mean it isn't encoded. If you read the articles, it will be clear that by cracking they mean understanding what's in there.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:19AM (#38470372)

      Unencrypted != human readable.

      Obfuscated bytecode is unencrypted and still takes a lot of effort to make sense from.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:20AM (#38470374)

      Being unencrypted and being human readable are two different things. Reverse engineering includes figuring out the data structure and format and actually figure out what bit means what data. Generally a simple process if it isn't compressed, encrypted or complex, but still reverse engineering.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:25AM (#38470402)

        Indeed. Anyone who has worked with any sort of Perl source code knows just how true your statement is. It's unencrypted, it's not (intentionally) obfuscated, and it may even have comments, but it's not human-readable, even after you've worked extensively with Perl for a couple of decades.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Tsingi (870990)

          it's not human-readable, even after you've worked extensively with Perl for a couple of decades.

          Which pretty much makes you a masochist. I used perl for a project once because it was the only language I could get to talk to MSSQL from Linux without screwing up. I dread maintaining it.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:10AM (#38471228)

          Ever look at LISP code. Looks like fingernail clippings in oatmeal.

          • by paramour (110003)

            Pah, kids these days. Try TECO

            "It has been observed that a TECO command sequence more closely resembles transmission line noise than readable text. One of the more entertaining games to play with TECO is to type your name in as a command line and try to guess what it does. Just about any possible typing error while talking with TECO will probably destroy your program, or even worse - introduce subtle and mysterious bugs in a once working subroutine."
            -- Real Programmers Don't Use PASCAL [ryerson.ca]

            The fi

            • by Night64 (1175319)
              The first time I saw someone coding a MUMPS [wikipedia.org] program, I figured that it was just a memory dump.
    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:24AM (#38470400)
      It is a binary, not source code. So it's like having a file containing an image of naked ladies, but not knowing what sort of compression scheme was used.

      It was also written in forth, of all things. So it's like finally figuring out the compression scheme and decoding the file - only to find out that it is an image of naked lady *martians*.
      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:32AM (#38470838)

        > It was also written in forth, of all things. So it's like finally figuring out the compression
        > scheme and decoding the file - only to find out that it is an image of naked lady *martians*.

        Er... you do realize this is slashdot, and to an entire generation of nerds who spent most of their post-pubescent lives lusting after Star Trek aliens, both real-live implementations of "forth" and images of "naked lady martians" are considered a good thing to find inside compressed, encrypted binary blobs?

        Stick with something safe, like car analogies.

        • real-live implementations of "forth" and images of "naked lady martians" are considered a good thing...

          I must not be living in your universe then. The last time I experienced Forth was an interpreter on a cart I bought for my C64 back in the 80's. I think I popped it in the slot once, then it sat on a shelf for the next 10 years and finally got round filed. I can't think of anyone I know who would consider Forth more than a curiosity and more than one of them would try to re-write the module in Python, probably.

          • by eudaemon (320983)
            Just as a single data point counterpoint, Forth is used in openboot proms so if you were to admin any Sun gear, you'd be using Forth whether you knew it or not even today. Having said that, it's a nice skill to have, but you probably won't get a job programming in that language.
          • by jackbird (721605)

            In the early 90s, portions of the computer art crowd (the ivory tower capital-A Art folks, not the demoscene folks) were using a lot of Forth to do things people would use Processing for today.

          • by geekprime (969454)

            It's my understanding that the camera systems that run suspended on cables over the football fields and up and down the sidelines are run on forth, not that that's a huge job market but it's still in use.

          • by sjames (1099)

            In spite of protests to the contrary, Postscript is practically forth with a few keywords changed and a vector graphics library pre-loaded.. That came in handy when I needed a program to produce printer ready output.

            Python may be generally preferable, but Forth can fit in a really tiny and minimalist environment.

            • by Thing 1 (178996)

              Python may be generally preferable, but Forth can fit in a really tiny and minimalist environment.

              Yeah, but shouldn't it have been called Backth? I mean, it's using reverse polish notation...

          • As another coutner-datapoint: All "new world" Macs (PowerPC Macs running OpenFirmware) were using Forth as the bootloader. This also goes for all Sun gear that used OpenFirmware, as well as anyone else. OF was the only real alternative to CMOS for years, and was built around a Forth interpreter.

            Up until 2006 or so, you'd probably get a decent driver-level coding job using Forth, but nowadays Lua would be a more useful language to know.

          • by dlawson (209945)

            I must not be living in your universe then. The last time I experienced Forth was an interpreter on a cart I bought for my C64 back in the 80's. I think I popped it in the slot once, then it sat on a shelf for the next 10 years and finally got round filed. I can't think of anyone I know who would consider Forth more than a curiosity and more than one of them would try to re-write the module in Python, probably.

            Alright, whippersnappers, listen up.

            FORTH was incredibly useful in the day when many SS-50 Bus systems had 32KB memory cards. I had one that also came with an old 8-KB memory card, but wasn't functional because it's address space overlapped the 32KB card. A simple lookup of the address pins on the memory controller address chip provided the knowledge to re-address the card to a new range, and so I had a system with 56KB addressable memory (the processor card had RAM and ROM onboard.)

            So what to do with the e

        • by rdebath (884132)

          I did use forth for a little while a long time ago. But I'm far to comfortable with normal algebraic notation to stay with it.

          So, IMO it's no use as a high level language, but it makes a very good assembly language especially if you're space constrained because optimising for space is just a simple LZW style compression algorithm. Something that is very, very well understood.

          So it'll never die, just get hidden everywhere there's half a penny to be shaved.

        • by antdude (79039)

          Do most geeks/nerds really know about cars? I am a nerd/geek, and I don't know about cars. :P

          • by c (8461)

            Judging from most slashdot car analogies, I'd say "no". Which, I think, makes it safer ground than programming languages and naked aliens.

    • by sjames (1099)

      If the images were in an undocumented proprietary format, figuring that format out so that they could be viewed outside of the intended proprietary app would be cracking.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:17AM (#38470354)
    According to the article, almost nothing has been reverse engineered and at best you get "a hint of what data is being captured" from examining an unencrypted config file
  • Are they actually transmitting my keystrokes to the carrier/google?
  • android? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:26AM (#38470408) Homepage Journal

    why does a story about carrier iq have the android icon on it?

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The software was used by US telcos in a few different phone systems they offered ... i.e. sitting between the beloved safe 'open' android or more closed OS's, https and your fingers.
    • by xSander (1227106)
      More like: why isn't there an iPhone/iOS-related tag? Android is mentioned because this spyware was installed on (some) Android phones.
      • Re:android? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:53AM (#38471816)

        why isn't there an iPhone/iOS-related tag?

        Because Apple vowed that it was never installed, and that it was disabled by default when it was installed.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          ...and that it was disabled by default when it was installed.

          So Apple lied when they said

          Apple vowed that it was never installed

          no?. And we must believe it was really disabled?

    • because Carrier IQ software is embedded in phones that use the Android OS?

  • by phonewebcam (446772) on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:33AM (#38470438) Homepage

    All it needs now is a $5 per Android handset "licensing fee" and you've got your smoking gun!

  • Cough it up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:34AM (#38470448) Homepage Journal

    If you haven't done so yet this year, it's time to go donate a few bucks to EFF.

    I wouldn't bring it up if we didn't need them so bad.

    I'm in for another fifty, just because I saw this story and it's fucking Christmas and if SOPA passes we might as well kiss our Internet goodbye.

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:34AM (#38470452)

    At the risk of being modded down, I think that if there is not already legislation to protect people from this type of spying then there should be.

    • Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course there will be. The legislation will say "you may continue to spy as long as we get a cut".

      No, that wasn't a joke.

      • Exactly right. EFF isn't corrupt - we're better off with them than legislation.

        In this case market regulation >>>> government regulation.

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      Protect? Surveillance and enforcement are much more profitable than privacy. Be glad the lawmakers are still calling the internet a 'right', any day it could become a mandate.
      This is the greatest spycraft tool and marketing assault ever conceived, all wrapped into the guise of bringing info to the masses!
       
      Throttled, vetted and sanitized info is the endgame if the entitled set get their way.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      What type of spying? So far, no one has shown that anything invasive has been sent. Only videos of event triggers, not actual storage or sending. The profile example for my phone looks innocuous enough, and the more I read about CIQ the more I think it does exactly what it says - help the carrier improve the network.

      So what exactly is it you want protection against?

      My carrier has already asked that it be removed from devices. The free market worked. Mostly because Sprint has been trying very hard to ke

      • You're referring to this specific instance (CIQ) whereas I am referring to the entire idea.

        Even if you are correct that nothing serious has happened..this time, the reality is that if we have no legal protection that we will be spied upon as much as possible for corporate gain.

        I want a life and I want it private. As I also want to be able to use the Internet (I don't use facebook et al and I make every effort for my private life NOT to be posted), and I want to be able to use a telephone without fear of be

  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@yahoo.cMENCKENom minus author> on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:48AM (#38470520)

    Of course we hope people can also send us Profiles from Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, iPhone and "feature phone" ports of Carrier IQ.

    I'd settle for more info about "c" on the machines collecting data.

    grep -H https *.xml

    att-galaxy-s2-defaultProfile.pro.xml: UploadUrl="https://ciqcol01.ciq.labs.att.com:10010/collector/c">
    htc-amaze-tmob-defaultProfile.pro.xml: UploadUrl="https://oddca.t-mobile.com/collector/c">
    htc-evo-sprint-iqprofile.pro.xml: UploadUrl="https://collector.iota.spcsdns.net:10003/collector/c">
    tmob-galaxy-s2-defaultProfile.pro.xml: UploadUrl="https://oddca.t-mobile.com/collector/c">

    I was able to get ciqcol01.ciq.labs.att.com 10010 to respond with telnet; but, it dropped my connection when I sent GET/POST etc. The others didn't respond. I'm assuming they have been moved.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Interesting. Port 10010 doesn't show up on a port scan but responds to telnet.

      host ciqcol01.ciq.labs.att.com
      ciqcol01.ciq.labs.att.com has address 216.103.127.200

      nmap -P0 216.103.127.200
      Starting Nmap 5.21 ( http://nmap.org/ [nmap.org] ) at 2011-12-23 07:52 CST
      Nmap scan report for 216.103.127.200
      Host is up (0.028s latency).
      Not shown: 998 filtered ports
      PORT STATE SERVICE
      139/tcp closed netbios-ssn
      445/tcp closed microsoft-ds

      • by Anrego (830717) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:01AM (#38470612)

        By default, nmap only scans a subset of ports (first 1000 of all protocols or something).

        Try explicitly telling it to scan that port (using the -p option)

        • Just the 1000 most common ports. Hence why it says "not shown: 998 filtered", as well as the two showing up. There is an option which will tell it to do a full scan of all 65536 ports.

          Thats probably why they chose that port, incidentally-- gets missed on a casual scan.

  • Why isn't there a wikipedia page on Carrier IQ, the software? There's only one on the company? Wiki wars?
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:22AM (#38470770)

      Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Wiki = What I Know Is.

        Given the intelligence of most people on this planet, Wikipedia isn't very intelligent. It's also SLOW to pick up on the latest and greatest. And it's still sorely out of date on many topics.

        What Wiki knows is garbage.

        • by Thing 1 (178996)

          Wiki = What I Know Is.

          Yeah I'm not going to add in the references, this is from this [wikipedia.org] page.

          "Wiki" (pronounced [Ëwiti] or [Ëviti]) is a Hawaiian word meaning "fast" or "quick".[5]

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, even though your edit won't last 24 hours.

  • by meburke (736645) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:28AM (#38470820)

    We know it's on android, but the article points to an earlier article that says, "In our post yesterday, we wrongly assumed that Carrier IQ was something that carriers added to smartphones — but now it’s clear that Apple bakes Carrier IQ into its closed-source iOS for use by carriers."

    This makes me suspicious that there may be a version in Windows-based phones, or other phones with different data OS' installed.

    • Im curious whether this is true of blackberry. Im still rather skeptical that RIM would take their supposedly security-minded product and then compromise it by including something like this in the stock firmware.

  • by fred911 (83970) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:39AM (#38470910)

    So not only are you possibly able to invade my privacy, but you're also charging me for the bandwidth to do it? I'm sure the TOS doesn't cover you for the later.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      I hope it wakes a generation up. So may thought the https as offered was safe via the trusted device and telco.
      This shows how many layers can sit between the users and the trusted network - open or closed in every phone shipped in parts of the world.
      Many noted it sends "nothing" back - but it still shows how easy it is to get a whole generation of devices shipped with any shipped or installed crypto dead out of the box.
      Where are the telco open source developers, former big telco contractors on this?
      A
      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        I loved my old Evo.
        Rooted with CM7 on it.
        Whatever phone you have, you should have root.
        Most likely you should replace the stock firmware with something else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cnj (87028)

      This may help explain why some carriers (e.g. T-Mobile) required an "unlimited" data plan for certain phones. Even though my wife only uses about 40 MB of data over T-Mobile's network a month, they want to require her to use the more expensive unlimited plan. If it's an unlimited plan, they aren't charging you for additional data transfer.

      Well, technically they might be, but not directly; and not legally. If that's really the reasoning, then they're just extremely evil and bad, bad people.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.cyanogenmod.com/blog/cyanogenmod-will-never-have-carrier-iq

    Most non-OEM ROMs do not have Carrier IQ.

  • My big problem with CarrierIQ has not been concerns over privacy (I just assume the carrier can see anything I send over their network) but the fact that it is both buggy and unstoppable. I was in the middle of nowhere when I noticed that my Atrix 2 was nearly dead (I had charged it that morning). Checking the battery monitor showed that "Device Health Applicaton" had sucked down 80% of my battery, and had been using GPS for 6 hours strait. Of course you can not force it to quit, que stream of [explative

  • I think it is time to start digging to the Radio Images that are provided by the phone vendors. WHAT are they tracking and WHO are they reporting to?

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