There has been no shortage of coverage on the discovery of Carrier IQ‘s software being present in 140 million+ handsets. Engadget has a great article that’s been kept up-to-date with developments, but we thought it was worthwhile to summarize our thoughts and comments driven by what our clients want and need to know.
- Context. It always helps having context to a “discovery” such as this one so let’s go back in history for a bit. Since the earliest mobile phones and technology devices in general, diagnostics logging has been a key integral part. Technology by its very nature is evolving constantly and rapidly. The best way for engineers to improve a technology product is to know as much about its performance as possible. Furthermore, within mobile phone technology, most carriers have been open about collecting diagnostics-related information and included it as part of the license agreement. 15 years ago it didn’t bother us. Our response tended to be “I don’t have anything confidential on my phone. I call people and businesses, and the carrier has to know that anyway in order to provide the service.” That no longer applies today. Let’s fast-forward to today.
- Smartphones have become personal and private. The more personal they are, the more likely they contain confidential information, whether private texts or online banking transactions. Even though the discovery by security researcher Trevor Eckhart showed the logging of every single keystroke, Carrier IQ’s statements and follow-up interviews assert that contents of text messages are not transmitted off the hand-set.
- Action you may want to take: If you are on an iOS device (iPhone, iPod, iPad), update to the latest iOS version using iTunes. Then with a few taps disable the logging with Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostics and Usage -> Don’t Send (see screenshot here). If you are on an Android handset, you may be able to install a Detector software from the Android Market and, if you believe you have it installed, call your Carrier and convince them to change it. Only the carrier can make the changes on carrier-locked handsets. If you’re on a BlackBerry, RIM has denied use of Carrier IQ software in BlackBerries.
Hopefully this is helpful, but please leave comments if I’ve left out anything important you would like included.