CarrierIQ May Not Be Smart for Smartphone Users
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
December 01 2011 01:24 PM ET
CarrierIQ has security analysts up in arms. The small program has been pre-installed on 141 million devices and is designed to help carriers "improve the quality of the network and improve user experience." Third-party analysts claim the program is a dangerous security breach for users.
The program tracks phone numbers dialed, the user's GPS coordinates, websites visited, keys pressed, and many website searches, according to security researcher Trevor Eckhart, who posted his discovery on InfectedRom, an Android security forum in late September.
The software is used by Sprint and may be used by AT&T. Verizon has denied its use. It runs on some Android , BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones, including the HTC EVO 3D, EVO 4G, EVO Shift 4G, and ThunderBolt. It may also have been installed on iPhones, but is said to collect less data than the Android version.
The program is supposed to make it easier for carriers to help customers troubleshoot problems with their phones. "The Carrier IQ solution gives you the unique ability to analyze in detail usage scenarios and fault conditions by type, location, application, and network performance while providing you with a detailed insight into the mobile experience as delivered at the handset rather than simply the state of the network components carrying it," according to the CarrierIQ website.
CarrierIQ stores carrier-customer data and makes it accessible to its carrier clients. The problem is it collects an enormous amount of data that could jeopardize a user’s privacy if it were released to other parties or was stolen.
"It's like leaving your keys under the mat and expecting nobody who finds them to unlock the door ," Artem Russakovskii wrote on the Android Police blog.
Despite the confusion about which carrier and on what phone, device users can determine whether or not CarrierIQ is installed on their phones by downloading Trevor Eckhart’s free Logging Test app and selecting "CIQ Checks." For $1, users can access the app's CarrierIQ removal feature.