A security researcher has posted a video detailing hidden software installed on smart phones that logs numerous details about users' activities.
In a 17-minute video posted Monday on YouTube, Trevor Eckhart shows how the software – known as Carrier IQ – logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smart phones - including HTC, Blackberry, Nokia* and others - and reports them to the mobile phone carrier.
The application, which is labeled on Eckhart’s HTC smartphone as "HTC IQ Agent," also logs the URL of websites searched on the phone, even if the user intends to encrypt that data using a URL that begins with "HTTPS," Eckhart said.
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.
In a post about Carrier IQ on his website, Eckhart called the software a "rootkit," a security term for software that runs in the background without a user's knowledge and is commonly used in malicious software.
Eckhart's video is the latest in a series of attacks between him and the company. Earlier this month, Carrier IQ sent a cease and desist letter to Eckhart claiming he violated copyright law by publishing Carrier IQ training manuals online. But after the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, came to Eckhart’s defense, the company backed off its legal threats.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the software that Eckhart has publicized "raises substantial privacy concerns" about software that "many consumers don’t know about."
Carrier IQ could not immediately be reached for comment. But the company told Wired.com that its software is used for “gathering information off the handset to understand the mobile-user experience, where phone calls are dropped, where signal quality is poor, why applications crash and battery life.”
On its website, Carrier IQ, founded in 2005, describes itself as "the world's leading provider of Mobile Service Intelligence solutions."
Carrier IQ, software that comes pre-installed on millions of smartphones that has the capability to record and store your keystrokes, the text messages you send and receive, the Internet websites you visit and more. If you own a smartphone -- a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an Android, a Windows Phone, whatever -- you are probably wondering whether or not Carrier IQ is on your smartphone, and if it is, how you can remove it.
Here is a rundown of everything we know about Carrier IQ, OS by OS. For a full background on Carrier IQ, what it does and why it has so many people nervous, ANDROID
The furor over Carrier IQ started with the discovery of the nosy software on Android smartphones and is only getting noisier .
Unless you have a rooted Android device, you won't be able to see if your phone is running Carrier IQ. But here's what we know:
- No Nexus smartphones (the Google Nexus One, the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus) have Carrier IQ software, according to a source who spoke with The Verge. That source also claimed that no Motorola Xoom tablets have Carrier IQ.
- Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the United States, said that it did not install Carrier IQ on any of its smartphones.
- Sprint in a statement The Verge. They do use Carrier IQ