Spying on Smart Phones
I must confess I’m a bit naive when it comes to smart phone security. On my home computers, I depend on Norton Security, WinPatrol and being behind a good Linksys router for security. But I recently came across the story of Carrier IQ on smart phones.
- Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything
- Carrier IQ Tracking Scandal Spirals Out of Control Carrier IQ Tracking Scandal Spirals Out of Control
- Your Smartphone Is Spying on You Your Smartphone Is Spying on You
- Want to Find If Your Phone Has Carrier IQ? There’s an App for That Want to Find If Your Phone Has Carrier IQ?
Carrier IQ Tracking Scandal Spirals Out of Control
In the article, it defines Carrier IQ as “a tool whose primary purpose is recording various info which helps carriers improve the quality of service for their customers.” Worse yet, the article mentions that “Worse, the app cannot be stopped or removed by the user.”
Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything
I liked the YouTube video featured. The Android developer making the discovery is Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut.
The part I found interesting in the article is “the Mountain View, California-based software maker threatened him with legal action and huge money damages. The Electronic Frontier Foundation came to his side last week, and the company backed off on its threats.” Wiki at Electronic Frontier Foundation defines them as “an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States”
Want to Find If Your Phone Has Carrier IQ?
Here’s some promising elements I found in the article:
“Voodoo Carrier IQ detector is an Android app, and it’s now available for free on the Android Market.”
“The app’s goal is to make Carrier IQ detection ‘as easy as possible,’ but it is at this time unfinished. The author, supercurio, claims the results are ‘not reliable yet,’ but promises updates in the very near future, so stay tuned.”
“Furthermore, the app is open source, which means other developers might be looking at the code and creating their versions of the app soon.”
I’m a big fan of open source, so I found that aspect quite appealing.
Here’s what a former Motorola cell phone division colleague of mine (i.e. no longer at Motorola) had to say:
“Much ado about nothing. Turning on the debug mode enables the button and user actions to be recorded. That is normal. I suspect that ICQ is actually the interface level that takes the physical actions and converts it into app level data. It is probably set up specifically for the HTC device to convert the unique physical data so it can talk to the Android system. A driver of a sort.”
“One thing the operators want of course is data related to system crashes. The debug data is set up to make that simpler. Under normal circumstances if you press forced close it captures data and can send it to the operator.”
“Imagine if they let a user shut down the screen interface and then they could not control the phone? I’ll bet that is why they cannot hit the forced close button for that application.”
I ran this article by another engineering friend. Here’s what he had to say:
“Well, FTC just went after Facebook for privacy, seems like there is government favoritism here, if nothing is done now that it has been exposed. I don’t think its ethical, there are excuses for everything i.e. making the phone work better, but the truth is our information is being shared to third party companies without consent or knowledge. The debug mode clearly shows CIQ receiving the SMS before the end-user and that the Google searches are not encrypted when sent to CIQ.”
Then the first engineer responded back:
“Remember that the reason the debug mode is set up to record the actions of the user before it gets send out. There are other logging mechanisms to capture the sent data. When the logging is grabbing the data it is internal to the phone so it doesn’t need encrypted until it gets converted and sent via RF. ”
“The real question is ‘What is CIQ doing with the data?’. If it is the driver converting the hardware data for Android to use it would be very normal. That would explain why you cannot turn it off. Killing the layer that coverts the screen and button data from running wouldn’t leave the phone performing much but a doorstop.”
The fellow engineer’s response:
“Excellent points, I can see how the RF data can be encrypted after the point that the video show us. The use of debug mode can only get this investigation so far but as you mentioned, it is probably a very normal and encrypted process that CIQ is doing here for HTC and Android that is helping the phone.”
“The videos are convincing but I do think you have the right point of view, this is normal and pretty much necessary, and it is not a direct violation of privacy in itself.”
20 Cool Trends in College Marketing
Since I did a recent post advising a 14-year-old girl on academic writing programs, someone shared with me this cool post entitled 20 Cool Trends in College Marketing at 20 Cool Trends in College Marketing What I advised the gifted 14-year-old writer to do is this:
- Continue your studies at your local junior college. Major in Journalism and English Literature. Work on the school paper, take as many creative writing classes as possible, and take any electives needed to transfer to a 4 year creative writing program.
- If possible, continue with an MFA in creative writing – find a program that is well-funded, gives free tuition and pays the students to attend the MFA program
What’s interesting is how colleges are using social media as part of the strategy. What is covered is tools like YouTube, blogging, Flickr and Facebook.
As a former Motorola black belt who worked in the cell phone IT software end, the use of Statistical predictive modeling and Developing mobile apps is especially intriguing.
I became fascinated with this question, after stumbling across Avril Lavigne on YouTube. Since I belong to the “older generation”, I have to look at 2 famous icons from my generation – Paul McCarthy and Mick Jaggar. How do they fare with Avril Lavigne in the social media game?
Who is Avril Lavigne?
More about Avril Lavigne can be found in the Wiki article at Avril Lavigne. The break that started her career was In 1999, Lavigne won a radio contest to perform with fellow Canadian singer Shania Twain at the Corel Centre (now Scotiabank Place) in Ottawa, before an audience of 20,000 people.”
Not much is told in the article about social media. But we can discover this by looking at YouTube.
Rolling Stones – Angie 14,994,522
Mick Jagger is a very wealthy and popular musician. But a perusal of YouTube find Angie as the most watched YouTube video. What you notice first is the number of views. It’s about 15 million hits.
Paul McCarthy and Michael Jackson 15,006,140
We know that Paul is a well followed musician – both with the Beatles and later with his own band. And Michael Jackson is more popular than ever – following his death. But really? Only about 15 million hits on a video they did together?
Avril Lavigne – What the Hell 92,922,766
What the hell is right. What’s there about this song that merits about 93 million hits?
Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend 168,677,730
So Avril wants to be the guy’s new girlfriend? Catchy song and cute video. But around 169 million hits? Really, people!
So what can we conclude or what hypothesis can we test?
- Is Avril Lavigne more popular than Mick Jaggard or Paul McCarthy with Michael Jackson?
- Is the demographic population that listens to Avril more familiar with YouTube than the demographic population following Mick, Paul and Michael?
- Is the SEO and viral marketing better for Avril’s videos?
- Other theories?
Guess what? Is YouTube getting social? See YouTube Gets Way More Social With Facebook, Google+ Integration at YouTube Gets Way More Social With Facebook, Google+ Integration