More than 141 million smartphones are now running software that can log everything a user does and sees, including private web browsing, incoming texts and even which buttons are pressed. The application, called CarrierIQ, runs in the background unbeknownst to consumers and captures user and phone data as evidenced in this video shown on Wednesday. So how does one know if their handset is running the CarrierIQ software?
While details of how widespread CarrierIQ’s service are still coming to light, all of the demonstrations so far have shown it on Google Android phones. There is some evidence that Apple’s iOS had CarrierIQ integration two years ago, but no data showing that it’s currently in use. For now then, the focus is on Android, and there is an application that can tell you if CarrierIQ is on your Android phone.
The free software is available from the XDA-Developers site, where CarrierIQ’s activity was first pointed out. The app, pointed out by TheVerge, is bare-bones and was quickly developed by Trevor Eckhart, the person who demonstrated on video exactly what CarrierIQ is capable of. His detection software is called an .apk file, which is the standard Google Android application installation method, so don’t panic if you’re not familiar with the term .apk.
Eckhart has several versions of the software available at the bottom of the XDA topic page; at last check I saw seven, because he added more security detection features as he developed the app. The one of most interest, however, is the CarrierIQ check, which is performed with a button tap after the app is installed.
I ran Eckhart’s app on my Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus One; both are free of CarrierIQ software, but I expected that. Both devices run custom versions of Android that I installed myself. CarrierIQ is installed in the software versions from either a carrier or a hardware maker, and since I’ve overwritten their software, there’s practically zero chance that my devices are spying on me.
How to check if your Android phone uses CarrierIQ
Kevin C. Tofel
Thu, 01 Dec 2011 14:54:52 GMT