A new video posted by a security researcher has the Internet in a frenzy, as it details hidden software installed on smartphones that logs numerous details about the users’ activities. It is not the creation of a hacker, but has apparently been pre-installed either by wireless carriers or by device makers.
The software, known as Carrier IQ, was discovered by Trevor Eckhart, who uploaded a 17-minute video on YouTube displaying the program, which logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a variety of smartphones and then reports them to the mobile carrier. Currently the list of devices equipped with this application includes phones made by Apple, HTC, BlackBerry and Nokia, among others.
Carrier IQ also logs the URL of websites searched on the phone, despite users employing an encrypted “HTTPS” URL, according to Eckhart. The researcher refers to the application as a “rootkit” or spyware program, which runs in the background without a user’s knowledge. According to Eckhart, the software always runs when the Android operating system is running and users are unable to stop it.
References to the software have reportedly been discovered on numerous smartphones from a variety of vendors and carriers, though only a few companies have stepped forward to acknowledge the finding. Nokia has publicly denied the allegations that Carrier IQ is present in its Symbian smartphones, while Verizon Wireless has confirmed that none of its handsets feature the software.
Carrier IQ is also said to be included on all iPhones running iOS 5 and lower, yet reports claim iOS 5 users may be able to disable the application by turning off “Diagnostics and Usage” in their Settings. However, it appears older versions of the OS may send back information instead of disabling the software.
Eckhart currently estimates the number of handsets installed with Carrier IQ’s software to be more than 141 million. As the story is still developing, there is sure to be more from Eckhart, Carrier IQ and the alleged manufacturers and carriers involved. Brighthand will be sure to keep you posted as more details surface. Check out Eckhart’s video below to learn more about Carrier IQ.