02
Dec
spy-files-wikileaks

Carrier IQ is bad news. We have spent much ink covering and debating the maliciousness of this pre-installed service which hides itself in the background of some Android devices, collects user information, and then sends it back to carriers. However according to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Carrier IQ is just the tip of the iceberg as most smartphones can be hacked remotely "with ease." At a recent speech, Assange stated point blank that anyone with an iPhone, BlackBerry or Gmail account was "screwed." While Assange didn't mention Android by name in his introductory speech, our favorite operating system is indeed referenced in some Wikileaks' reports. No OS is ever truly safe after all.

Following the release of "The Spy Files," a cache of 287 documents which detail "the reality of the international mass surveillance industry" spanning 25 countries, Assange explained that over 150 organizations are able to remotely control all aspects of a smartphone, including reading messages, sending "fake" messages, viewing browsing history, reading emails, and monitoring phone calls. These private organizations could then sell the information wholesale to governments or other partners.

spy-files-wikileaks

According to the released documents, the spying software was primarily developed in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The UK is known for its heavy-handed internet monitoring and other surveillance practices, however what is troubling is that, according to Wikileaks, the technology may have been sold to several dictatorial regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. Bahrain has been identified as a recipient of the technology, using it to track human rights activists.

The conspiracy is clearly global, with companies in the U.S. France, Italy, and the Czech Republic developing malware that can hijack smartphones and "record its every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in."

Scary stuff. As Assange rightly points out, the interception of this data will lead society to a "totalitarian surveillance state."

[Source: BGR and ZDNet]

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • billyJoeBob

    I can not for the life of me understand why any report / article does not have a time stamp.

    • azo0zEe

      I really wonder why, they even don't display the year!

      • http://nothingishere.net AGoodName

        At least it's in the URL.

        • azo0zEe

          Oh, it is? Thanks man!

    • http://verb0ze.net verboze

      LOL, look at the green tab thingie on the top-left of the article. Took me a while to find it as well.

  • Patrick

    Didn't anyone see the dark knight...?

  • CuriousCursor

    Microsoft Wikileaks 2012?

  • SonyEricssonEmployee

    It is not a conspiracy, it is an industry.

    Phone loggers have always been included in the phones provided by the carriers, long before the arrival of smartphones.
    The carriers have always seen both you and the phone you use as their private property.
    As long as you buy a phone on a contract, you are the bitch of a phone company.

    • Moises Ramirez

      well, now that you put it that way! LOL

    • http://www.androidpolice.com Abhiroop

      There's a difference between triangulating your position using cell towers and sending fake messages from my phone.

      • Tashlan

        I believe the equipment sends the message from their network, but makes it appear as if it came from your phone. Simple spoofing, nothing more.

  • Moises Ramirez

    This is going str8 to my facebook. WOW

  • Paul

    Julian Assange is such a demagogue fear monger, he loves to publish rubbish and tell you there is "a monster under your bed watch out!". He doesn't understand that these technologies are for fighting terrorism and can only be deployed in countries such as the UK or US with a warrant from a judge. Assange also doesn't understand the word "privacy policy" and "data walls". He loves to hate on technology companies built by truly brilliant programmers that he can never aspire to be as he is envious of the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Page/Brin "elite" technologist core because they have vastly superior intelligence to himself. If this fraudster really hated totalitarian regimes he would focus on China/Iran and Saudi Arabia and leave the Western world alone.

    • billyJoeBob

      And you work for which one of the companies being sued now?

      • Paul

        No, I don't actually. I just think that Assange is hailed as a hero when he is really just a scum bag using Fear Uncertainty and Doubt and the total ignorance of his audience to get donations on his website. Assange is like the modern day techie version of a "bible salesman". He convinces you that armageddon is around the corner and to "help him in his quest" by donating a small amount of money, then goes back to his posh London pad and goes to a rave party, making you the fool. This is not even to mention the money he makes by selling his data dumps to large newspapers and journals that publish his stuff...

        • Brandon

          Whilst some of the stuff his organisation has released is definitely useful, I agree 100% with what you're saying. And let's face it, why would the government casually hijack your phone anyway? If you're an enemy of the state or some other person of interest, be scared. Otherwise, why be so scared?

          How long is it gonna be before Wikileaks starts posting about the end of the world and having people believe it? Don't believe everything you see, and always question what it means to you in particular. I'm not fussed about this, i'm no terrorist.

        • soundping

          Shooting the messenger(Julian Assange) doesn't change the facts.

          "Governments of all kinds hate civilians to have ANY privacy"

          Google: OnStar government listening

          "GM, Google talk merging Android, OnStar"
          http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/gm-google-talk-merging-android-onstar

          Scary and true.

    • Peake

      If this really is being used for fighting terrorism, why is it being installed on the phones of innocent civilians?

      • http://verb0ze.net verboze

        Thanks, I was wondering the same. I guess each and everyone of us are suspected terrorists then XD

  • RomeSC

    I CANNOT STAND the "if you aren't doing anything wrong than you have nothing to be concerned about."

    That kind of thinking demonstrates the intelligence and forethought of an 8 year old. Or more realistically a 16 year old.

    Privacy matters. Or at least it should. Its people like you that take away the value of personal privacy.

    I bet you're the same person who thinks its no big deal to be photographed nude to get on an airplane because "you don't have anything to hide". Not having something to hide is not the point. Maintaining personal dignity, privacy and freedom is what matters. This "facebook generation" sees privacy as something expendable... or worse as irrelevant.

    • RomeSC

      Oh, and just because the company/organization that intercepts, steals or logs your data doesn't intend to do malicious things with it (sure... apparently selling it off isn't malicious) that doesn't mean there aren't more criminally minded people who are willing and able to steal that data causing major problems.

      • Tashlan

        That is probably the biggest problem with data collection. The original intent doesn't matter, it's what ends up happening to your data when they change their minds, or when your data changes hands, or when your data becomes public information. It takes on a life of its own.

        McCarthy hearings anyone? "Sure, I was a involved with the communist party then, but that was before the wind changed direction and it became a career or even life threatening to be associated with the communists. It was harmless ideology at that time."

        What's in your Government dossier might not matter to anyone right now, but at some point in your life you might wish you'd had some simple privacy.

    • Bryan

      I guess im inbetween. I have no problem with them scanning us at the airport. Seriously if there was a way for they to just scan me so I dont have to wait in line and take out all the metal and crap.. I would be all for it.

      I dont think government should be allowed to search anyone phone without a warrent though. and selling software to dictators is always a scary thought. governments should fear their people not the other way around.

  • Mobile IQ Analyst

    Similar to AT&T and Sprint with Carrier IQ, Verizon spies with the Smith Micro software called QuickLink and also known as the VZAM for Verizon Access Manager. Smith Micro Systems links the VZAM with Windows Live to download games and entertainment. I bought a new notebook activating in-store on Verizon 4G LTE and my first boot-up was a hundred text messages digitally transcribed into LTE about gaming, gambling and entertainment. Verizon 4G LTE is not for family or business users. Verizon uses the customer's allotted gigabytes for these downloads that are disguised as network updates. Verizon third-party downloads stall the device on LTE and disconnect to revert to 3G CDMA at re-start. Verizon Executive Relations refused to consider my complaints about privacy and no opt-in. Verizon stores refuse to support LTE saying that are only retail doing retailing and not data support. Verizon stores refer data customers to the Albuquerque call center that says LTE is only for short interval use like downloading content and will not stay connected for a half hour for a business user. Verizon requires opt-out of their policy to billing and home location with third parties. AT&T and Sprint exploit Carrier IQ while Verizon defies the standard CPNI of usage and phone number.

  • Kane

    I never post stuff on forums because of the mass ignorance and bias. If you think Julian Assange is a moron I think you need to do a little research on the man.
    He's been hacking since the 80's.
    In 1995, he wrote Strobe, the first free and open source port scanner.
    He contributed several patches to the PostgreSQL project in 1996.

    Starting around 1997, he co-invented the Rubberhose deniable encryption system, a cryptographic concept made into a software package for Linux designed to provide plausible deniability. Other free software that he has authored or co-authored includes the Usenet caching software NNTPCache and Surfraw, a command-line interface for web-based search engines. Whether you love or hate the man he is extremely intelligent.

    • soundping

      Well said, Kane.

  • Mark

    I have a smartphone cause I'd rather have the convenience and features it brings me. But I do imagine that if I were to 'go rogue' or want to be off the grid completely or even do anything 'illegal' (which I don't, this is more of a 'if i did' type of thing), I'd easily dump my smartphone for a cheap prepaid cell phone and use a fake ID to purchase it. Burner phones. And I'd be smart enough to pop the battery out when I'm in the middle of my nefarious activity. Since I don't have anything to hide at the moment, I'm all for my smartphone. But I don't sign contracts with big companies either, I use prepaid carriers/MVNO's.

  • Mark

    What's to stop a 'terrorist' from picking up 2 or 3 cheap'ish T-Mobile Android phones on craigslist and buying 5 or 6 Simple Mobile SIM Chips at a local dealer, pay cash, give them a fake ID/false identity if they ask, etc. And creating a fake/temporary Google account. He could use the phone for a week and at the end of the week, toss the chip and put in a new chip. At the end of the month, toss, or sell the phone and switch to a different device. Even if they 'could' track his phone (the number would change within a week; the serial of the phone changes in a month) control it and see everything it's doing, etc. etc. all these nefarious activities, it'd never tie back to the real person. That allows a 'bad guy' to have full access to the features of a smartphone with little or no fear of being caught. This type of news, about Carrier IQ and ability to hack/remote a Smartphone, are more to scare the general public, the normal people. In reality, if somebody was doing something really bad and illegal, they'd have a hundred options of getting around the system.

  • Exalted Ruler

    Sorry, it is not about terrorists. As always it is about profits at the expense of customers privacy. I can not relate to the quest to target customers with geo-local ads when I hate any ads that popup in your face.

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