. Military Space News .

Smartphone probe exposes computer risks
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Dec 7, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

As a global outcry spotlights what smartphones may do without their user's knowledge renewed questions are being asked about computer hardware and software and the secrets that remain hidden from public view.

European and U.S. lawmakers initiated moves that are set to trigger a closer scrutiny of smartphone functions and if they violate a user's privacy or break the law in other ways. A series of long-drawn investigations are likely to be the first stop on a road to getting at the truth.

Claims and counterclaims, bureaucratic inadequacies and corporate obfuscation will all play roles as the controversy grows, analysts said.

At issue isn't just what a smartphone does for its user or for its manufacturer or service provider. A greater question concerns all hardware and software in use in governments, business and corporate institutions and the public at large worldwide.

Last month a Connecticut software developer said embedded analytics company Carrier IQ's software, installed on millions of phones, allegedly tracks almost everything people do on their smartphones.

The Mountain View, Calif., company initially threatened to take legal action against Trevor Eckhart, 25, after he made the tracking claim. Later, CIQ apologized to Eckhart and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an anti-censorship group that came to Eckhart's support.

Carrier IQ explained the software was installed for quality control on Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones and doesn't record keystrokes, doesn't inspect contents of communications and doesn't sell the information to third parties.

Eckhart, however, posted a video on YouTube that appears to show the software logging keystrokes of text messages and encrypted Web searches, Wired.com said.

In a 17-minute video posted on YouTube, Eckhart showed how the Carrier IQ software logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smartphones and reports them to the mobile phone carrier.

Eckhart said he found the application also logs the URL of Web sites searched on the phone, even if the user intends to encrypt that data using a URL that begins with "https."

The software always runs when Android operating system is running and users are unable to stop it, Eckhart said in the video.

"Why is this not opt-in and why is it so hard to fully remove?" Eckhart wrote at the end of the video.

The Youtube.com page with Eckhart's video had more than 1.8 million views by Wednesday.

On his Web site Eckhart called the software a "rootkit," a security term for software that runs in the background without the user knowing it. Rootkit is also commonly used in malicious software.

Eckhart's claims about CIQ coincide with widespread activity within the Obama administration to track down spyware with potential links to foreign countries or governments.

The United States is invoking Cold War-era national security powers to force telecommunication companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to divulge confidential information about their networks in a hunt for Chinese cyber-spying, Bloomberg News reported.

A U.S. Commerce Department survey distributed in April asked thousands of companies for a detailed accounting of foreign-made hardware and software on their networks. It also asked about security-related incidents such as the discovery of "unauthorized electronic hardware" or suspicious equipment that can duplicate or redirect data.

It cited "very high-level" concern that China and other countries may be using their growing export sectors to develop built-in spying capabilities in U.S. networks.

"This is beyond vague suspicions," Richard Falkenrath, a senior fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity Initiative said.

"Congress is now looking at this as well, and they're doing so based on very specific material provided them in a classified setting" by the National Security Agency, Bloomberg said.

In July, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said the department knew of instances of foreign-made components seeded with cyber-spying technology but offered no details.

Related Links
Cyberwar - Internet Security News - Systems and Policy Issues

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Ex-US general warns of growing cyber threat
Washington (AFP) Dec 6, 2011
A US adversary would currently be unable to bring down the entire US electrical grid using cyber weapons but such a scenario is conceivable within two to five years, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday. "Today, the likelihood that a nation-state or any actor is going to knock down the entire electrical grid of a country, of the United States let's say, is very ... read more

NATO, Russia fail to defuse missile defence row

Medvedev to talk missile shield in Prague

Medvedev arrives in Prague for missile shield talks

Russia warns on missile shield as NATO meets

Seoul shopping for cruise missiles

South Korea planning to buy cruise missiles

Russia and NATO trade barbs over missile shield

Israel says Syrian rocket tests show regime's fear

Iran airs footage of US drone, protests 'violation'

Pentagon analyzing Iranian footage of US drone

US drone penetrated 250 km: Iran protest

Iran's boasts over US drone reveal inconsistencies

Satellite Tracking Specialist, Track24, wins Canadian Government Contract

Airman brings space to ground forces

Astrium achieves Initial System Acceptance on Yahsat programme

Northrop Grumman Awarded Microscale Power Conversion Contract

Plextek picks tracking technology supplier

Raytheon Awarded Contract to Advance Thermal Imagers Manufacturing

Lockheed Martin Delivers Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance System to Air Force

Coastal radar offers unprecedented performance of littoral surveillance

Greece examining 'free' US tank offer: army

France warns of end of Rafale fighter jet production

Counter-IED Market in Decline

Iraq seeks new F-16s to bolster air force

NATO seeks to mend fences with Russia on missile shield

Russia may boycott NATO summit: ministry

US denies seeking to 'contain' China

NATO allies meet amid tensions with Russia, Pakistan

Rheinmetall demonstrates laser weapons

LockMart Directed Energy Leader Receives Purdue's Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement