Carrier IQ Logging Software Found on Many Mobile Phones

carrier iq logoOver the last couple of days, there has been a significant amount of press over the findings of Trevor Eckhart who exposed the presence of extensive logging software found on many Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones. A video showing the extent of the logging was posted and is summarized by PCWorld. The software is called "IQRD" by a company called Carrier IQ.:

After connecting his HTC device to his computer, Trevor found that IQRD is secretly logging every single button that he taps on the phone--even on the touchscreen number pad. IQRD is also shown to be logging text messages.

In the video, Eckhart shows that Carrier IQ is also logging Web searches. While this doesn't sound all that bad by itself, it suggests that Carrier IQ is logging what happens during an HTTPS connection which is supposed to be encrypted information. Additionally, it can do this over a Wi-Fi connection with no 3G, so even if your phone service is disconnected, IQRD still logs the information.

It doesn't seem entirely clear what information is transmitted and used, though the presence of the software itself has generated many privacy concerns. Eckhart noted in his original findings that on his Android HTC phone, there was no way to turn off logging. He also notes that the Carrier IQ application is embedded so deeply that it can't be fully removed without rebuilding the phone from source code. Forbes is suggesting that the company may have even violated wiretapping laws based on its actions. Carrier IQ maintains that its actions are aimed at device performance only.

Tonight iPhone developer @chpwn reported on Carrier IQ references in Apple's iOS as well, though its logging seems to be much more in line with Carrier IQ's official statements about device performance. (The references were first spotted by Intell on our own forums). Chpwn reports:

Importantly, it does not appear the daemon has any access or communication with the UI layer, where text entry is done. I am reasonably sure it has no access to typed text, web history, passwords, browsing history, or text messages, and as such is not sending any of this data remotely.

The information logged for iOS seems limited to phone call activity and location (if Location Services are enabled). Also unlike the implementation found on Eckhart's HTC, iOS users can opt out of these diagnostics by simply going to Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostics & Usage -> Don't Send. The actually logged diagnostic data appears to be fully accessible for perusal in that same setting menu.

TUAW describes the iOS findings as "probably benign" and consistent with expected network performance diagnostics.

Top Rated Comments

Intell Avatar
146 months ago

Tonight iPhone developer @chpwn (http://twitter.com/#!/chpwn) discovered Carrier IQ references in Apple's iOS as well, though its logging seems to be much more in line with Carrier IQ's official statements about device performance.

No he didn't. I did: https://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1284749

My posts here predate his tweets and I first mentioned this on MacRumors on November 25.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dethmaShine Avatar
146 months ago
Apple just did a better job of hiding their keylogging software.

Maybe you should try reading the article again OR may be following the story on other websites before posting asinine comments.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
inkswamp Avatar
146 months ago
Another WIN for the Android platform. My HTC is flashed with a custom ROM without any of that horse-hockey.

Open source FTW.

Only in the the most delusional Android fan dreams can it be called a win that someone would have to root a phone and flash the ROM to remove a legally questionable rootkit sanctioned by the service provider and OEM.

Seriously. Some of us want a phone, not a weekend hobby. :rolleyes:
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
146 months ago
You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to accept that every major tech company - Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc - collects information on their users from the devices they distribute. In fact, this is quite obvious in almost every respect.
Yes, it is very obvious. There's even a setting for it.

Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostics & Usage -> Don't Send
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
146 months ago
What does this have to do with anything? If you think Apple isn't tracking everything you do on your iPhone, CarrierIQ or their own method, you're naive.

or maybe just not a conspiracy theorist?

arn
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Qwaf Avatar
146 months ago
This, on a tech news site, is comical.

Some of us want a phone, that we can tinker with to OUR liking, not steve jobs' liking.
Then you've chose the wrong company. That isn't Apple's philosophy anymore, and because of that, it has allowed them to make products which are insanely popular.

I never understood people who continue to hang around banging on about this sort of stuff that is just inherently against Apple's stance. Apple aren't trying to be this way, nor want to be this way, just be happy with the platform you have.

It has nothing to do with being on a technology site.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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