Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

Carrier IQ, what is it? How to check if its installed on your Android smartphone

by George Heymann

Technology-Headlines

Carrier IQ, Inc. is a privately owned software company which has recently received a great deal of media scrutiny regarding its “diagnostics software” that has been embedded in millions of subscribers’ phones. The software was designed to gather and analyze data in order to diagnose potential problems and help identify solutions.

The controversy regarding the Carrier IQ software first received media attention when researcher Trevor Eckhart of androidsecuritytest.com reported that Carrier IQ was logging information, including keystroke logs without notifying users or allowing them to opt-out. Carrier IQ initially responded by issuing a cease and desist order to Mr. Eckhart that suit was subsequently withdrawn by Carrier IQ Inc. CEO Larry Lenhart after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) interceded on his behalf.

 

Carrier IQ has since released various statements explaining its software:

“While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.

For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen…As a condition of its contracts with operators, Carrier IQ operates exclusively within that framework and under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. The data we gather is transmitted over an encrypted channel and secured within our customers’ networks or in our audited and customer-approved facilities…Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers – the mobile operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices. Carrier IQ is the consumer advocate to the mobile operator, explaining what works and what does not work.”

So far AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have confirmed that the software was installed on its phones. Apple, HTC and Samsung have also acknowledged the software was installed on their phones although Apple in no longer supporting the application in iOS 5 according to a recent statement. Verizon Wireless officials stated that it does not install the now controversial Carrier IQ software on any of its phones.

My T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G handset recently received an OTA firmware update software to version 1.50.531.1 that added a couple of new features and several improvements. Although I haven’t noticed any appreciable difference in performance since installing the update I did notice that HTC removed the Carrier IQ software from the updated firmware. The removal was not detailed as part of the update.

For more information on Carrier IQ check out this post by Peter Eckersley that explains the Carrier IQ Architecture in detail.

If you would like to check for the presence of Carrier IQ on your handset there are several free apps available on the Android Marketplace.

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Filed under: Android, Apple, Services, Software, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Ok, this is really bad. I was fooling around with my friend\’s x10 Xperia mini, and now it\’s locked through a security question. Well, unfortunately she forgot the answer. Any ways to unlock it without having to reset the whole phone? There really are a lot of memories in that phone, I wouldn\’t want my friend to lose all of it. Please people, any universal answer for the security question, \”what is your moms maiden name?\” please, this is a really serious matter.

  2. George Heymann says:

    Hi

    I did some checking and several users are suggesting “Screen Lock Bypass” a free application available on the Android Market. Since you don’t have access to the phone you’ll have to install the application on your friends phone from the web:

    https://market.android.com/details?id=se.curity.android.screenlockbypass&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsInNlLmN1cml0eS5hbmRyb2lkLnNjcmVlbmxvY2tieXBhc3MiXQ..

    Have your friend log in to her account click install and then choose the device to install the application to. I haven’t tried the program myself but many others were able to recover the phone without a hard reset.

    I hope this works for you guys.

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