Carrier IQ, the vendor and carrier-installed rootkit software pulled into the spotlight last month by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, has caused quite a stir. Carriers including AT&T and Sprint use the software as a means of collecting data logs that might help them identify and address connectivity problems and other issues, but the software’s covert nature and wide range of snooping capabilities make it a concern. The good news is that detecting the software on your Android phone couldn’t be easier thanks to a new app from Bitdefender called Carrier IQ Finder. Read on for more.
Android phone users can install Carrier IQ Finder [Android Market link] from within the Market for free. Once the app is installed on your smartphone, simply tap the icon to open it and you’ll know in less than a second if your handset has the Carrier IQ software installed.
The bad news, however, is there’s precious little you can do about it at that point if you’re afraid your carrier might use the software to spy on you. The two main options — install Eckhart’s removal tool Logging TestApp Pro Key [Android Market link], or install a third-party ROM — each require you to root your device, which could lead to problems if attempted by less savvy smartphone users. With the Carrier IQ related lawsuits beginning to pour in though, carriers may soon issue software updates that remove the tool from their handsets in an effort to curtail damages.
Carrier IQ software is installed by carriers in an effort to “collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to devise solutions to use and connection problems,” according to Carrier IQ’s website. The software logs a tremendous amount of sensitive data however, and it gives carriers access to all or most of it. Exactly how each carrier uses the software remains something of a mystery, but expect plenty of light to be shed on the software in the coming weeks and months as Carrier IQ falls under the microscope.