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CarrierIQ Tries To Silence Security Researcher 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
phaedrus5001 sends this quote from a story at Wired: "A data-logging software company is seeking to squash an Android developer's critical research into its software that is secretly installed on millions of phones, but Trevor Eckhart is refusing to publicly apologize for his research and remove the company's training manuals from his website. Though the software is installed on millions of Android, Blackberry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until the 25-year-old Eckhart analyzed its workings, recently revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user's phone experience, from its apps, battery life and texts. Some carriers prevent users who actually find the software from controlling what information is sent." The EFF is hosting PDFs of CarrierIQ's C&D letter, as well as their response on Eckhart's behalf.
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CarrierIQ Tries To Silence Security Researcher

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  • by Pastor Jake (2510522) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:42PM (#38143376)

    My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    This man is working to remove software which can be used to identify pedophiles, rapists, and other ungodly characters which are plaguing this nation. He should be brought to justice for undermining our government's attempt to keep our land free and Christian. I propose that we take this software a step further, and have it display a random Bible verse on bootup of the device, in order to spread Christ's message to the unsaved.

    God bless,
    Jake

    • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:44PM (#38143410)
      You can't sacrifice privacy for security, it doesn't work that way.
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Yep I keep saying this, if you don't know wtf, then don't use your phone in a manner that compromises self. However, I'm unclear how this is legal, is it part of the smartphone UELA? Wasn't there something that required software vendors on smart phones to obtain user consent on what features are being transmitted since the iphone fiasco? If not there damn well should be, no idea who these fags are besides a now bulls eyed hack target with probably a newb admin.

        My advice for Trevor: post your shit on tpb

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:37PM (#38144212)

        Here thar be trolls.

        Dont feed them.

      • by jamesh (87723) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @03:08AM (#38146130)

        You can't sacrifice privacy for security, it doesn't work that way.

        Christianity is based on the idea that you can sacrifice one man for the salvation of all mankind, so you can see how sacrificing privacy for security might make sense to them ;)

        I can never quite tell whether people sprouting religious rhetoric are serious or trolling...

        • > you can sacrifice one man for the salvation of all mankind
          Not "you", "a god";
          not "one man", "his son", that is himself;

          apart this freaking major problem, it was a witty post.

    • by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:55PM (#38143492)

      Ahh, but therein lies the rub 'brother':

      As many christian fundementalists are publicly on record for asserting, the very people that would have access to this technology's data logs are also "secular, heathen, sinners" who "hate god", and "actively disparage and discriminate against true believers."

      This tool would enable deadly and repressive government officials to prevent the spread of christianity though this technological outlet, and would function just as sensationally as a tool of religious and ideological censorship as it would as a powerful tool to identify and punish criminals.

      You cannot have your cake and eat it too, 'brother'.

      (My troll-o-meter is pegging a 10, but it could be a poes law false positive. If you be trollin, research your religious fundies more dutifully next time. If you were simply naive about the serious implications of software like this, and honestly felt that a "think of the children!" Argument was in any way grounds for outright debasement of fundemental liberties that everyone enjoys and society is demonstrably better for, my advice would be to always think about what would happen if an evil person had control over that part of the process. The price of freedom is eternal vigilence, and those that trade freedom for the illusion of safety deserve neither.)

      • by jamesh (87723) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @03:20AM (#38146188)

        My troll-o-meter is pegging a 10, but it could be a poes law false positive.

        Yeah I got that too. You can never quite tell... some people really are that crazy. I think the "display a random Bible verse on bootup of the device" is a bit of a giveaway though. A smiley face emoticon at the end of the post would have been nice.

        Having an app that displays random bible excerpts each time you turn on your phone would be cool, although they'd have to be brief, eg:
        "kill every woman who has slept with a man"
        "save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man"
        "kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women"
        The more it can be taken out of context, the better!

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:05PM (#38143564) Homepage Journal
      While you are just trolling, the ultimate goal of the "total information awareness" program is in fact to quantify data used to predict events before they happen. This especially applies to the concept of "pre-crime," where your data would be fed through an algorithm. If your actions are undesireable to the establishment, then you will be followed and arrested with the first excuse they can muster.

      And a fact most appropriate to your user ID - Religious lobbying in America has increased 500%. Among the most important issues of religious lobbying groups are:

      - The relationship between church and state (pissing on that thing we call the constitution)
      - Civil rights and liberties for religious and other minorities(like the gays?)
      - Bioethics and life issues, including abortion, capital punishment and end-of-life issues(force people to have kids they don't want and prevent people in constant paint to pass peacefully, generally impede scientific progress)
      - Family/marriage issues, including definition of marriage, domestic violence and fatherhood initiatives(great job in the bible belt, with its higher rates of divorce)

      So yes, this is all related, because Christians are in charge of America, and Christians believe that everybody else should be subject to the same overbearing parenting that Christians were subject to as children. Big brother is their way of foisting their so-called "morality" upon everybody else, willing or unwilling.
      • by jamesh (87723)

        So yes, this is all related, because Christians are in charge of America, and Christians believe that everybody else should be subject to the same overbearing parenting that Christians were subject to as children. Big brother is their way of foisting their so-called "morality" upon everybody else, willing or unwilling.

        Someone has been feeding you crap so you'll hate the Christians and draw your attention away from who the real enemies are.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:38PM (#38143820) Homepage Journal

      Well, Jake, your name seems to imply that you are a Christian. The Imam will be happy to get this CarrierIQ data, so that he can behead your infidel ass.

      Not to mention, "Pastor" seems to imply that you're a Protestant. Just think, if the Pope had this sort of data way back, all you Protestant apostates could have been burned at the stake, along with that wench, Joan of Arc.

      And, the atheist movement will also welcome all this information. This will make it easier to find you, for deportation to a reeducation camp.

      In short - you're an idiot.

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:52PM (#38144306)

        His high UID combined with a clearly trollish statement means he might not be the idiot here. Yall are postin in a troll thread.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>if the Pope had this sort of data way back, all you Protestant apostates could have been burned at the stake, along with that wench, Joan of Arc.

        Sorry, I hate feeding trolls, but I'm boggling at this statement.

        You honestly are accusing the Catholic church of burning one of their patron saints at the stake? The English very explicitly didn't allow Jean D'Arc to appeal to the Pope, as they were running a show trial (threatening the English churchmen with death if they failed to burn her).

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:03PM (#38144012) Journal

      I propose that we take this software a step further, and have it display a random Bible verse on bootup of the device

      It's a wonderful idea, brother, but I would like to clarify something important first: KJV or NIV?

    • *yawn* Boring troll is boring.

      What's your thoughts on chiropractic? or HOSTS files?

    • by mrogers (85392)
      Wow, Jacob Appelbaum has really changed since he joined that church...
  • by RetailResTech (2499152) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:55PM (#38143488)
    Looks like CarrierIQ is trying to save face in their PA http://www.carrieriq.com/Media_Alert_User_Experience_Matters_11_16_11.pdf [carrieriq.com] I wonder, I'm not entering a contract with CarrierIQ, are they collecting this data to their own servers then sending the data to the carriers or are the carriers collecting the data?
    • Following the great tradition of replying to the first post to get more hits, but...

      The first link in the linked EFF letter (the analysis of CarrierIQ software) is missing the second hyphen in /logs-and-services/. Posting the working link here [androidsecuritytest.com]
  • by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:59PM (#38143526)

    the software secretly chronicles a user's phone experience, from its apps, battery life and texts.

    Let's hope someone succeeds in reverse engineering and implementing a copy of the CarrierIQ protocol, as I wish it to be known that my favorite App is the "Nude Crocheting Pocket Guide", and my current battery life is "Purple".

    I will also be happy to forward my texts (which I shall not utter here) to the phone company as well, as soon as an international SMS character set for the language of Morder is approved.

  • Why blame CIQ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:06PM (#38143568)

    Their software serves a legitimate purpose. It reports usage metrics so that phone makers can make phones that better serve people's needs. This is a Good Thing.

    The problem is that you should be allowed to opt out. Some people don't like participating in these programs, and that should be their choice. By default, CIQ's software lets the user opt out. The problem here is that some companies are blocking that option or making it extremely difficult. They are the ones who should be criticized here.

    • Re:Why blame CIQ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by saihung (19097) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:08PM (#38143576)

      Did you read any of the linked documents? The criticism against CarrierIQ is not necessarily about what they're making, but that they are trying to shut this man up for telling the truth about their products under the guise of copyright claims. That deserves criticism, and lots of it.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        I read the original story, and kinda forgot about it. But after this, my carrier is getting a call. And if they don't tell me how to turn it off, they're getting another.

        And since they know who I'm calling, and can kinda predict these things, I'm going to keep calling. Predict this, cos it's coming. There is no excuse for censorship when it's running on MY GODDAM PHONE. It's mine, and if I don't know what it's doing, it's going straight up your ass. Did you predict that? Hope you brought lube. Unles

    • Re:Why blame CIQ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by miserere nobis (1332335) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:38PM (#38143816)
      This is like saying that a person who follows and videotapes everything you do, from your bedroom moments to your PIN-entering moments, serves a legitimate purpose by being able to report usage metrics on how well your shoes meet your needs in getting you from place to place, and that the existence of the Nike Stalker Program therefore, because it can help bring about better footwear, is a Good Thing. Highly misplaced acceptance. While I would be happy to see my shoe companies take an active interest in how comfortable or uncomfortable I am while wearing their products for certain types of activities, subjecting me to complete surveillance in order to carry this out is inappropriate, morally wrong, personally unacceptable, and falls very much into the Bad Thing category.
    • no no no your wrong. it should be these people go to prison unless they prove we opt in. the fact is people say we should have the option of "opting out". THE TRUTH IS WE SHOULD BE KEPT OUT UNLESS WE OPT IN.
      • by iceaxe (18903)

        I wholly agree with you, but please learn to communicate more effectively. We'll get more traction that way. I promise.

    • cost (Score:5, Insightful)

      by currently_awake (1248758) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:53PM (#38143936)
      They are inflicting a financial cost (bandwidth charge) upon you without consent. It's like buying a car and having them keep a set of keys so they can take it for joyrides (using your gas).
    • Re:Why blame CIQ? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jamesh (87723) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:20PM (#38144126)

      Their software serves a legitimate purpose. It reports usage metrics so that phone makers can make phones that better serve people's needs. This is a Good Thing.

      The problem is that you should be allowed to opt out. Some people don't like participating in these programs, and that should be their choice. By default, CIQ's software lets the user opt out. The problem here is that some companies are blocking that option or making it extremely difficult. They are the ones who should be criticized here.

      The other problem is that you can't opt-out of something if you don't know it's there...

    • Re:Why blame CIQ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:38PM (#38144214) Homepage

      "The problem is that you should be allowed to opt out. "

      Actually, it should be opt-in.

    • Re:Why blame CIQ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:40PM (#38144240)

      I work for a handset OEM. The requirement to install CIQ on a handset is a mandatory requirement that has come in over the past year or two - the last phone we did just missed having to have it implemented. It is the carriers who get the logging information and we have to do the porting. I agree that users should absolutely have the ability to opt-out of this kind of snooping, but so far there's no requirement for such a setting. I *do* expect to see it very soon though if the carriers know what's good for them. Pressure to drop preloaded craplets worked with Sprint and to a certain extent AT&T, so I expect those to be first with an amended set of requirements, if indeed they don't drop CIQ like a stone for all the bad press they've caused.

  • how do i remove that spyware?
    • by TheyTookOurJobs (1930780) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:14PM (#38143618)
      Root your phone and load a custom rom, that will take care of a few problems. CIQ, Bloatware, and you can freely tether your internet.
  • Ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:11PM (#38143588)

    Let's see them track me on my landline! They'll never know where I am!

  • Streisand effect? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sdavid (556770) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:15PM (#38143620)
    They'd better watch out for the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org].
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:16PM (#38143630) Journal
    ... then maybe I have hope of getting a fix, or at the very least, a more efficient battery on my next phone.
  • by miserere nobis (1332335) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:16PM (#38143634)

    I don't know how even on Slashdot there are some people who tend to argue "what do I care, if I'm not doing anything bad with my phone?" Let's get rid of that before it gets started here. I have a Samsung, Android, Sprint phone. That means I apparently have a logger installed that can track every key I press, every message I send, every web site I visit. That means that Sprint, Sprint employees, and whosoever Sprint or its employees should share this information with, whether that be government, advertisers, companies or individuals with malicious or invasive intent, whether this is shared on purpose or by accident or security breach, has access to such things as:

    • * All my bank accounts
    • * My email accounts
    • * All my associates, how often I call them, and what I say to them via text message
    • * The password to my KeePass database and every password stored therein
    • Phones are not just text messaging and dialing devices anymore. A keylogger on my phone is equally offensive as a keylogger on my home PC, and has the potential for just as great a compromise of my life's privacy and security. I have no control over the security with which Sprint or anyone else transmits or stores my personal information, and even more importantly, they have no right to have it in the first place. Besides the fact that the FBI has a well-known history of tracking the lives of many private citizens with politically motivated intent, I certainly do not care for the idea of private corporations and whoever works for them having all of my passwords and knowing where all my accounts are. There is no reasonable argument for why I should think this is okay. I do not have to be doing anything illegal for me to reasonably object to my mobile phone company having, or storing (with who knows what security), a back door into every single piece of my life. Somebody whose involvement in my life is supposed to be merely providing me with telephone service does not need and has no right to expect the master key to my whole digital, financial, social, and business life.

      I will be contacting Sprint and asking them for a means to permanently remove this software from my phone. If they are unwilling (which they probably will be, but they need to actively hear a complaint from me and everyone else so they understand the offensiveness of their actions), I will have to go down the "root it and fix it myself" path. I hope the rest of you with affected phones will do the same.

    • by ad454 (325846)

      A removal tool is definitely needed! In fact, Android needs to have a better way to prevent background data on Apps when they are not in use.

      Maybe I should just root my Samsung Nexus S 4G and only use ROM's from non-commerical sources, such as from xda-developers.

    • my work-around: I don't have carrier-paid data plans and I have 'texting' (god, I really hate that word, I really do) disabled as well.

      my phone does wifi when I'm at home or at trusted places. other than that, its a cellphone (remember those?) and its there in case I need to make or take calls. then again, I'm in airplane mode at all times unless I'm actually expecting a call.

      finally, the phone is bought unlocked (nexus one) and has no ties whatsoever to any carrier. with a pay-as-you-go plan, there's no

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:36PM (#38144196)

      On my work phone are items that are covered I part by. HIPPA +HITEC Act, PCI-DSS and more. Are these folks cOmplying with those laws? If they get breached I get to notify thousands of people who's data may be compromisd??

      NothIng could go wrOng.....

      • by Aryden (1872756)
        hilarious if the carriers and ciq got hit with hippa compliance fines. What is it, $100,000 per incident now?
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:21PM (#38143670)

    Is it me, or is the first point in the "Agreement" that CarrierIQ wants Eckhart to sign actually imply that CarrierIQ is performing the illegal copying???
     
     

    I _______, agree to immediately
     
    Cease and desist your unlawful copying of the Training Manuals

    • At first I couldn't see what you were saying, but then I hunted down the Cease and Desist and laughed my ass off. They obviously meant it to read: I _______ agree to cease and desist my illegal copying .... As written it asks him to pledge to (magically?) cease & desist CarrierIG's illegal copying. ROTFLMAO

      With lawyers like that and the EFF on his side, I don't think he has much to worry about.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:03PM (#38144020) Journal

    This is the only question I have right now. It's only a minor process to root my phone and install CyanogenMod on it.

    Someone I was speaking with today was theorizing that there is actually a hypervisor layer running on smart phones, so even if you do root it, you're still not really getting raw access to the hardware - you're just rooting one VM, and this spyware runs in the hypervisor. I don't know how true this is, but I figure someone here knows.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:42PM (#38144260)

      Hypervisors aren't that stealthy, and can be made to reveal themselves quite easily once you perform a trapped instruction. Aside from the massive research cost in coming up with some kind of truly stealthy hypervisor, it would also significantly increase unit costs. So no, there's no hypervisor.

  • This makes them an easy target for a MASSIVE class-action suit. California has some strict consumer protection and privacy laws.

  • by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:46PM (#38144642) Homepage

    Ms. Woods,

    I possess and use an HTC EVO 3D smartphone in line with my daily duties for my employer and various clients. This phone contains your employer's software (CarrierIQ for Sprint), which was bundled with the device and zero disclosure that it was installed or of its capabilities.

    My device contains HIPPA-protected data (specifically relating to EMR software and the data contained therein) as well as PCI-DSS related information for my company's various clients. As such, it is protected by all manner of privacy laws, the breach of which results in severe penalties under United States law.

    After reading Trevor Eckhart's research and doing some of my own, I am curious as to specifically what data your organization is capturing on Sprint's behalf, as well as to what extent they have customized their build of your software, and what its capabilities with their modifications are.

    If the software, either in its original form or modified, does indeed capture data from a phone, including the ability to take screenshots or access the contents of e-mail accounts or SMS messages, this could potentially be in violation of all manner of privacy acts, depending on what data is being harvested and whether your client has the option to turn such collection on or not.

    Please note that, among other techniques, I will be disassembling the binaries that I possess on my device and will be comparing it against the original ROM image that HTC has issued for this device in order to differentiate what, if any, changes are pushed out through over-the-air updates in order to determine the capabilities of the software as best I can.

    To the best of my knowledge, I have never accepted any license agreements or restrictions regarding the software on my device, and as such, I am not bound to refrain from analyzing the software as I see fit, nor from having the results peer-reviewed and published once completed.

    If your department is unable to answer my questions, please relay this to someone else inside your organization as you see fit.

    I remain,

    INSERT_NAME_HERE

    • by maevius (518697) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @01:40AM (#38145696)

      Although I would like this to work, I'm familiar with PCI-DSS and I'm pretty sure that it's your fault for keeping this data on a cell phone which is not PCI-DSS compliant and not the carrier's/CarrierIQ's

      • by Vokkyt (739289)

        I would assume that this falls under FERPA/HIPPA regulations as well, and for those, it is on behalf of the user to be aware of potential breaches. Companies certainly can market towards consumers who work in fields that require specific privacy rules to be followed, but that is at the Companies' discretion.

        Basically, unless you were sold the device being told specifically that it was safe for use in your line of work and PCI-DSS/HIPPA/FERPA/whatev, I doubt there is any grounds for complaint based on that.

  • RTFP! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:32PM (#38144900)

    Read the F*ing Find Print people! Your wireless carrier can do whatever they want with devices provisioned on their network. You therefore cannot be "surprised" when a third party comes along and offers them "services" to track customer usage patterns.

    From AT&T Wireless Terms and Conditions [att.com]

    You acknowledge that every business or personal decision, to some degree or another, represents an assumption of risk, and that neither AT&T nor its content and service providers or suppliers, in providing information, applications or other content or services, or access to information, applications, or other content underwrites, can underwrite, or assumes your risk in any manner whatsoever.

    .... and ....

    From 3.1 "My Device"

    You are responsible for all phones and other devices containing a SIM assigned to your account ("Devices"). Your Device must be compatible with, and not interfere with, our Services and must comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. We may periodically program your Device remotely with system settings for roaming service, to direct your Device to use network services most appropriate for your typical usage, and other features that cannot be changed manually.

    Devices purchased for use on AT&T's system are designed for use exclusively on AT&T's system ("Equipment"). You agree that you won't make any modifications to the Equipment or programming to enable the Equipment to operate on any other system. AT&T may, at its sole and absolute discretion, modify the programming to enable the operation of the Equipment on other systems.

    • Re:RTFP! (Score:5, Informative)

      by quixote9 (999874) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @12:13AM (#38145140) Homepage
      Actually, no. EULAs, TOS, whatever, which contravene actual laws, are invalid. You couldn't, for instance, bury a clause in a sale contract stipulating that by signing the buyer had agreed to be your slave. Or, you could, but it wouldn't hold up in court.

      And that's the problem. Very few of us have the money, energy, or time to fight all the bullshit contracts we have to sign. So they haven't (yet) been thrown out of court. That doesn't change the fact that they're garbage.
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:50PM (#38144998)

    I was hoping someone can convince CarrierIQ to pay the millions of smartphone users that have the software installed on their phone.

    If I were to find this software on my phone, might it generally be a violation of the Terms so I can opt out of the contract?

  • by thephydes (727739)
    I admit to being an ignoramus about exactly what (who) EFF is (are), but my respect for it (them) grows daily.
    • by richlv (778496)

      they're cool. check out barlow speaking at eG8 : http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/05/barlow/ [wired.com]

      he's like the only person there who isn't a greedy fucking bastard... spot how they all are surprised and if i recall correctly, it was the host who went like "oh, usually everybody agrees here on these things..."

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @11:25AM (#38149428) Homepage Journal

    I use a Blackberry, and I am concerned about this software, yet I cannot find any evidence of the validity of the claims, from any sources other than the original research.

    Can anyone verify that CIQ does indeed exist on Blackberrys, and if so, how to remove it?

  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium.yahoo@com> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:39AM (#38215460)

    This looks like it would be a very useful tool for debugging. Being able to see things in real time and plain text is very helpful. That being said, so are ssldump, strace, and gdb. However, I don't install any of these utilities unless I need to do some debugging. An application that can not be uninstalled, can not be turned off, and actively divulges private information is nothing less than a spyware rootkit.

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