Researcher finds snooping smartphone software

Dec 01, 2011
File photo shows a man checking his mobile phone in New York. A smartphone security researcher is shining light on a hidden program that tracks activity on Android, BlackBerry and Nokia handsets.

A smartphone security researcher is shining light on a hidden program that tracks activity on Android, BlackBerry and Nokia handsets.

Trevor Eckhart exposed the workings of Control IQ in a video available online Wednesday as the California company behind the software defended it as a tool for mobile network operators.

"Our software is designed to help mobile network providers diagnose critical issues that lead to problems such as dropped calls and ," Carrier IQ said in a press statement.

The company denied the software logged keystrokes or tracked smartphone users.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

However, Eckhart's video showed Control IQ software buried deep in an Android-powered smartphone recording buttons pressed, Internet , text messages and locations.

Eckhart typed a text message of "Hello world!" only to have it instantly appear in a Control IQ application log in an phone.

The software was tricky to find on the device and couldn't be turned off, according to his demonstration.

Control IQ had tried to silence Echkart with a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action but backed off after lawyers at the (EFF) went to his defense.

"Mr. Eckhart's legitimate and truthful research is sheltered by both the fair use doctrine and the ," EFF senior staff attorney Marcia Hofmann wrote in a response to the Control IQ letter.

Eckhart wanted details regarding why the Control IQ software was vacuuming information about smartphone use and who they shared it with.

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User comments : 6

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3 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
They are either NSA or Russian mafia, not that there is a difference. Watch how the state attorney generals ignore this illegal wiretapping.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2011
Very disturbing.

By listing the app as not an HTC app, perhaps HTC is setting up plausible deniability?

I just checked my Motorola android device and did not find the Control IQ app listed.
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
Brilliant marketing, add the word " smart ' to anything and people will eat it up.

" Look at me with my smartphone, I'm smart because I have this "

5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2011
They are either NSA or Russian mafia, not that there is a difference. Watch how the state attorney generals ignore this illegal wiretapping.

I would bet on NSA. Time to re-read Orwell's 1984.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2011
On IPhone too: http://
1 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
I accused my carrier of using it and thereby causing my phone to freeze daily, citing a link to Homeland Security and Senator Franken's investigation. Their executive team called me back, twice today. They are clearly worried. The NSA is trying to skirt privacy laws by having the carriers claim that no voice or keystrokes are recorded. But for the NSA, it is a simple matter to map the recorded audible clicks into the corresponding keys. I wonder how much taxpayer money is paid to the carriers to facilitate this widespread surveillance?

Write your senator! And threaten your carrier!

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