Increasingly, our phones are becoming our best assistants. A recent discovery, however, begins to question just how much of our privacy is compromised as a factory-installed program is found to reveal every infomation from our phone to the respective companies that made it. Are our personal infomation as safe as we think it is?
Recently a program has been unveiled to be embedded deep into some Android phones which records just about every single thing a user can do with his or her phone. All the data goes back to the hardware manufacturers of the phone, which includes account passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive infomation. There is also no way to opt out of being monitored.
This discovery was first made when an Android developer Trevor Eckhart used a packet sniffer program to track all data that enter and exit his HTC EVO 4G smartphone. At the center of all this is the software developer Carrier IQ, the company that created this monitoring method for almost all mobile device manufacturer. Upon realizing that Trevor had branded their software as a “rootkit” (a term equivalent to malware) in community sites, Carrier IQ promptly sued him, only to back off when an International digital rights advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation stepped in to help Trevor. In their apology letter to Trevor, Carrier IQ mentioned that their software does not record keystrokes, amongst other inputs, but a video circulated by Trevor shows that this is not true.
As of now, there is no easy way to remove the program other than to install a new operating system on your phone. That, of course, generally involves removing the warranty from the phone, so it is not a good solution for most people. For now, much remains to be seen from the response of various companies responsible for the implementation of such a program.