In case you didn’t know it by now, spy agencies are really good – and hopefully effective – at spying on people, including both actual valid targets as well as unsuspecting citizens who aren’t plotting anything bigger than a trip to an exotic country. To further demonstrate the power of one such agency – NSA’s close buddy, the British GCHQ, in this case – The Intercept has published a new Snowden leak, which reveals such ambitious mass spying plans, as well as their silly names. More →
The wiretapping business can be quite expensive for the U.S. Government, and a lucrative deal for carriers that have to comply to court-ordered surveillance operations and help government spy agencies gather information through wiretaps on selected targets. But it turns out the government is not happy with one particular carrier, which has allegedly overcharged for wiretaps, CNET reports. According to a complaint filed against Sprint in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Monday, the carrier got $21 million in wiretaps payments more than it should have from agencies including the FBI and the DEA. More →
The United States House of Representatives has voted to pass the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), talk of which has swept the Internet over the past few weeks. The House vote was moved up to Thursday night, and CISPA passed as 248 members of Congress voted for the bill and 168 voted against. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), and it now faces further modifications in the Senate if it is to avoid being vetoed by the White House. President Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk, noting that as it is written now, the legislation would allow “broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information.” The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement following the vote. “Cybersecurity does not have to mean abdication of Americans’ online privacy,” said ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson. “As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back. We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity.” More →
During a recent speech to delivered at the City University in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that most smartphones can be hacked remotely with ease. “Who here has an iPhone? Who here has a BlackBerry? Who here uses Gmail? Well, you’re all screwed,” Assange said during his talk, which followed the release of 287 documents related to mass surveillance. Assange explained to the crowd that more than 150 private organizations in 25 countries can easily track phones and intercept messages, browsing history, email accounts, phone calls and more remotely, ZDNET said. Several organizations are even capable of sending fake text messages from a user’s phone, Assange said. Read on for more. More →
Class action lawsuits have been filed against Samsung, HTC and Carrier IQ. Carrier IQ has been in the spotlight after a security expert revealed that its software is installed on millions of smartphones and may be spying on users. Sprint and AT&T have both admitted to using the application, and other carriers likely use similar services, but both carriers have denied taking advantage of the software’s ability to spy on customers. The class action lawsuits are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of all U.S. residents, paidContent said Friday. Read on for more. More →
India’s government is currently in the process of testing a solution that will allow it to spy on BlackBerry users sending and receiving data over India’s cellular airwaves. The country’s Telecom Secretary has confirmed that India’s Department of Telecommunications is testing the solution, which will allow government officials to monitor several services tied to Research In Motion’s BlackBerry smartphones. The new solution being tested is part of India’s demands to gain access to messages sent by its citizens, and the government has threatened to ban BlackBerry devices if it is not granted access to users’ data. RIM has cooperated with some of India’s demands in the past, having provided it with the means to see messages sent via BlackBerry Messenger and to monitor web browsing, but the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor has insisted on multiple occasions that it does not possess the capability to monitor encrypted emails sent and received via its corporate BES service. India’s Telecom Secretary would not specify which BlackBerry services this new monitoring solution addresses.
HTC on Friday responded to user allegations that at least two of its smartphones, the HTC Sensation and the HTC EVO 3D, spy on users. BGR reported on Thursday that a new Android software update issued to these two handsets included tweaks that cause the OS to log users’ behavior. As discovered by InfectedROM forum member TrevE, Carrier IQ and four other processes in Android 2.3.4 purportedly gather usage stats and transmit them in the background. HTC has confirmed to BGR that these functions are all tied to an opt-in service however, and the Taiwan-based firm says it is not spying on anyone. Read on for more. More →
First Apple, Google and Microsoft were accused of tracking user locations and now it appears HTC’s Sensation and EVO 3D smartphones are spying on their owners. According to user TrevE from InfectedROM, a recent Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread update from HTC added a little something special to the source code of Carrier IQ (CIQ), an Android component. CIQ is not new; it is part of Android and used on most devices to send data back to carriers about your smartphone. However, the source code on the EVO 3D and Sensation reportedly now has a “User Behavior Logging” function that is capable of tracking how Sensation and EVO 3D owners use their smartphones in greater detail. Read on for more.
Updated with official comment from Sprint below. More →
Apple has been fined by South Korea’s telecommunications regulator following the “Locationgate” scandal that caused public outrage earlier this year, Dow Jones reports. This marks the second time Apple has had to pay penalties resulting from the iOS location-tracking snafu. A South Korean lawyer sued Apple and was awarded $1 million won, or approximately $945 at the time, by a court this past June. It was discovered in April that the iPhone and some iPad models were secretly tracking users and storing their locations in a local file. Apple determined that a software bug was responsible for the collection of location data, and it promptly issued a fix. The damage had already been done, however, and lawsuits were filed. Apple’s prompt attention to the matter likely limited the damage, and Wednesday’s fine levied by the Korea Communications Commission is the first penalty we’ve seen issued by a regulatory body. So what’s the damage this time around? $3 million won, or approximately $2,829. More →
The United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Saturday stated its intentions to limit the access its citizens have to RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. RIM said on Sunday, however, that new regulations in the UAE will impact all smartphones and not just BackBerry devices. “The TRA has confirmed to RIM that any potential policy regarding enterprise services in the UAE would be an industry-wide policy applying equally to all enterprise solution providers,” RIM said in a statement. This is clearly a touchy subject for RIM. The secure smartphone maker has been at war for years with officials in India demanding access to corporate emails sent and received with its devices, and now the fight has spilled over into other countries. RIM insists that other companies are impacted by these regulations as well, however, and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis recently stormed out of an interview when pressed on the subject. Of course India’s regulations are affecting other companies, but RIM gets the most media attention because its devices have touted security so much since their introduction, and because RIM is the only company so far that said it cannot grant India the access it needs. More →
India’s government reiterated its stance on Research In Motion and other companies providing officials with access to to monitor encrypted data. “It’s not a question of their giving access. Under law, they have to give access, everybody has to give access,” federal Home Secretary Gopal K. Pillai told reporters on Tuesday. “Whoever gives access will be allowed to operate. Whoever does not give access will not be allowed to operate.” The Indian government notified several companies last year that they would have to provide access to emails and other data in order to comply with regulations and remain operational in the country. Following the ultimatum, the spotlight turned to RIM, a company known for providing secure and encrypted mobile services to its global subscriber base. RIM would later state publicly that it does not have the capability to give the Indian government, or anyone else, access to emails sent and received using its corporate email solution. Unless RIM can come up with a solution that falls within the guidelines set forth by applicable laws, India appears ready to pull the plug on BlackBerry smartphones. More →
Research In Motion confirmed on Thursday that it will not give the Indian government access to email sent to and from BlackBerry smartphones in its country. The refusal to comply with India’s request is less a moral stance and more an issue of technology, according to RIM. “There is no possibility of us providing any kind of a solution,” RIM VP Robert Crow said to reporters. “There is no solution. There are no keys to be handed.” India demanded access to email and all other BlackBerry services last year as part of larger efforts to monitor security threats within the country. RIM gave the Indian government access to its BlackBerry Messenger service earlier this month, but complex email encryption will apparently not allow the company to provide similar access to its email services. More →
It’s not every day Google dusts off the trusty old ban hammer and squashes an Android app. After all, the Android Market is an open one, where any developer can bring any app to the masses — almost. Mobile developer DLP Mobile launched an app earlier this week that performed a pretty questionable function; it allowed users to spy on SMS messages by having them automatically and secretly forwarded from a host phone to their own cell phone. The app, dubbed Secret SMS Replicator, was added to the Android Market Wednesday and it almost immediately caused a stir. Before long, Google exercised its ultimate authority and removed Secret SMS Replicator from the Market, saying the app “violates the Android Market Content Policy.” While the removal of this malicious app is seen as a positive move by most, some question whether or not Google’s actions push the Internet giant further away from the “open” descriptor it loves to boast. Most would likely agree, however, that leaving spyware in the Android Market would certainly have been the greater of two evils.