Ever had a cell phone get strange on you?

Ever heard of “carrierIQ?” Its an “app” on most cell phones (one that is hidden) that’s sort of part of the OS. It sends stuff to the carriers. It can also execute commands that someone texts to your phone by intercepting them before you see them. It has bugs, and might get a buffer overflow and blow chunks on your phone. Or it might just execute the code, and send a keylog or your current location or contact list back, then delete the text message so you never see it.

As a friend of mine that has been doing software research for years said, it’s basically a trojan that gets loaded by your phone manufacturer, and yes it’s been hacked more than once. (Of course I’m sure a software researcher would never hack the OS of a phone, any more than they’d see if they could run UNIX on an XBox 360, and here of course I’m just making up hypotheticals that no one would ever do.)

Just thought you’d like to know. Sleep well.


7 thoughts on “Ever had a cell phone get strange on you?

  1. Like when Straight Talk sends me a notification to call them for an update, it doesn’t arrive as a normal text message, but rather replaces the main screen with their message despite me not looking at my messages. Somewhat disconcerting when I realized what that meant about their ability to control my phone. My hope is that when they eavesdrop on my calls they will realize how boring I am and they’ll give up.

  2. Is this something that can be gotten rid of through rooting? I’ve not done it, but have thought about it.

    • Probably not.

      There are at least two processors in every smart phone. One handles the user interface, the user applications such as games, web browser, controlling the settings, making phone calls, etc. The other processor handles the actual interface to the telephone network, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. This second processor can intercept anything, going either direction, to/from the user space processor. It can also send commands to the user space processor and read its non volatile storage.

      When you “root” a phone you only change the O/S of the user space processor.

    • Rooting alone will not do it. Carrier IQ is generally integrated too deeply with the carrier provided OS image. You will need to install another image without all the carrier imposed crud. This is a good place to start if you have android and you are new to re-imaging your phone.

  3. Pingback: SayUncle » So, that’s how they do that

  4. I’m so glad that I have a flip phone with mechanical buttons as my upgrade, with no contacts on it….or anything else. I mean…. phones are for calling people.

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