Is your iPhone spying on you? - The Behrend Beacon

Is your iPhone spying on you?

Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Author: M. Justin Smith (Contributing Writer)

Carrier IQ is a piece of software that manufacturers can put onto phones to look at every little thing you do on your phone.  However, the companies that use this software on their phones are insisting that it does not send them the information from your texts or photos or other data, it just sends them the information needed to understand how the user uses their phone and information on connection problems that may occur with the phone.

That does not mean that the information isn’t there for other people to access though. There are videos on the internet where people plug their phones into their computer and they are able to monitor Carrier IQ watching you, the computer displays all information that Carrier IQ is processing. From button press to calls made, it processes it all. 

Why is this bad if carriers are not being sent your personal information? Well, the software is running on the phone at all times and there is no stopping it. From what I’ve seen on the web people can only look at the information being processed if the phone is in debug mode and plugged into a computer. Who’s to say that someone won’t find a way to break into the program with a 3rd party app and have all the information that Carrier IQ process sent to them. Carrier IQ can see through encryption so nothing is hidden so if someone finds a way to connect to this application they could potentially get access to your logins and passwords from Facebook to a bank account; anything you log into on your phone.

Do not panic. While this could potentially be possible, it’s going to take some time before you see something like that out there. Any applications you install from the Marketplace have to undergo a check before they are put up for download, so chances are very high that apps that find ways to exploit Carrier IQ will not get out there for you to easily download. You most likely would have to be installing an app from an unapproved location to see this on a phone. 

The U.S. Senate has launched an investigation of the software to find out once and for all what this software does and if it is in fact legal or not. That might be something you want to look into if this situation is catching your interest. Also, as of writing this, Carrier IQ, HTC and Samsung are all being sued for tracking customers and face fines that could be $100 for every day that any violation of collecting private information took place, without the user’s permission. 

The software seems to only be on smart phones.  There are some traces of is still on the iPhone but for the most part Apple got rid of the software after iOS 3. As for Android users you can download an app called Voodoo Carrier IQ Detector and it will see if the software is running on your phone.

There might not be anything to worry about with the Carrier IQ software, but at the same time, no one seems to know for sure so only time and the Senate investigation will tell us for sure. Until more information comes out I would not worry too much about the software being there but it’s still something you may want to keep track of in case this ends up being a problem