Creepy app tracks every piece of your data

WASHINGTON – Your smartphone may contain a program that records every bit of data your phone creates, and there is very little you can do about it.

A video posted on YouTube last week by Trevor Eckhart, a 25-year-old Android developer, shows how software known as Carrier IQ logs everything from text messages to passwords to web browser addresses.

(Ed. Note: The most relevant info begins around 8:40 into the video.)

The software, according to Eckhart, is known as a “rootkit.” Rootkits are pieces of software that run in the background of computers and phones – in most instances without the user’s knowledge – and are often attached to spyware or malware.

According to Gizmodo, Carrier IQ functions “between” applications and users. The rootkit can be found on most Android phones and does not have an opt-out function.

Gizmodo also reports that a prominent iOS hacker determined that Carrier IQ is also on iPhones, but only logs technical data and is off by default.

Apple released a statement to All Things D saying it stopped supporting Carrier IQ in most of its products with the iOS5 roll out, and will completely remove it in a future software update.

The company recently issued a public statement saying the program was “not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools.”

A Verizon Wireless spokesperson tweeted Thursday that the company does not use the rootkit on any of its smartphones.

Sprint and AT&T have confirmed their usage of Carrier IQ, but say they only use the app to improve network performance.

TechCrunch has published a guide to finding out if your phone has Carrier IQ installed, and what you can (and can’t) do to remove it.


(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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