Tools Emerge to Detect Carrier IQ App

As the situation involving Carrier IQ continues to evolve and users become more aware of the software and its capabilities, a couple of tools designed to detect the application’s presence on mobile devices have emerged.

As the situation involving Carrier IQ continues to evolve and users become more aware of the software and its capabilities, a couple of tools designed to detect the application’s presence on mobile devices have emerged.

Mobile-security vendor Lookout has developed an Android app that can detect whether Carrier IQ is on a specific device, but it doesn’t have the capability to remove the application itself. Researchers have found that the Carrier IQ app is intertwined with the low-level software and firmware of the devices that it’s on, and removing it can be a difficult process that could produce unexpected consequences if done incorrectly. So Lookout’s Carrier IQ Detector only tells a user whether the software is in fact on the device.

“We’ve developed Carrier IQ Detector to help our users better determine whether or not their handset contains Carrier IQ software. This application does not remove Carrier IQ software from your device. Because Carrier IQ software is deeply integrated with handset firmware, users would be required to attain special device privileges in order to remove it. Side effects of this process have the potential to put users at further risk of malware infection while making devices ineligible to receive firmware updates in the future,” the company’s Tim Wyatt said in a blog post.

There’s one other detector app for Android phones, as well, known as Voodoo Carrier IQ Detector, and it has essentially the same capability as the Lookout detector. It can determine whether the Carrier IQ app is on a given device and gives users detailed information about what data triggered a positive result.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the Carrier IQ is present on other platforms, but Apple has said that it no longer uses the software, as of iOS 5.0.

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Discussion

  • Anonymous on

    "We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products," said Apple in a statement Thursday.

    In a follow-up conversation, an Apple representative clarified that that meant Carrier IQ was not included in iOS 5 "on all devices," although she declined to say which devices had the metrics software -- only those with diagnostics turned on, perhaps? -- or to elaborate further.

    Another part of Apple's statement read, "With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information."

  • Anonymous on

    Under Settings/Location Services/System Services (waaay at the bottom of the list) there's an option for "Diagnostics & Usage" on my iOS5 iPhone.  This seems a likely opt-in toggle for the sort of tracking & diagnostic info being discussed.

     

    Presumably even if they're not using Carrier IQ, Apple is using some other software that provides the same features.  When has a company ever voluntarily reduced the amount of information it collected, particularly if it thinks that it will be of some monetary value eventually?  Data storage is cheap.

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