Carrier IQ Whistleblower Trevor Eckhart Works for Tracking Firm
December 13, 2011 3:45 PM
Intergis makes GPS tracking/telemetry products
We've wondered why amateur Android devoloper Trevor Eckhart's commentary on his "discovery" of Carrier IQ was so seemingly one side and exagerrated. Now we've found out something interesting -- he works for a tracking firm that is a potential rival to Carrier IQ.
Carrier IQ -- installed on over 140 million phones -- even in the worst case is hardly as bad as Mr. Eckhart, along with some members of the public and the media, made it out to be in their rush to lynch the telemetry firm. In fact my own analysis of Carrier IQ -- which included
both debug logging
(as in Mr. Eckhart's research) and
decompilation of the Carrier IQ Android applications
on an HTC Corp. (
) device (something Mr. Eckhart did not do) -- indicated that the worst things Carrier IQ distributions were doing were largely the result of poor coding and pratices from its carrier and OEM partners.
So what led Mr. Eckhart to fail to qualify that Carrier IQ was only keylogging inside one proprietary app on a handful of HTC phones, leading many members of the media and public to mistakenly think it was keylogging passwords inside web forms and third party applications?
Mr. Eckhart, by his own accounting, works as a "Systems Administor" at a Torrington, Connecticut firm called Intergis LLC. He describes the work as "Computer Software Industry" functions:
tracking and telemetry products, remarkably similar to Carrier IQ, although currently targeting corporate users. The company's product gives businesses a way to GPS tracking to secure their mobile device fleet or coordinate employee travel.
At the heart of Carrier IQ's application is the same functionality -- phone GPS tracking -- that allows carriers to assess and improve their network. Thus while Mr. Eckhart's firm markets its app to business customers only, at this point, it would be almost trivial for it to add wireless signal and battery life gathering and create a Carrier IQ competitor for the consumer market. And if his firm does that, they likely now realize how to escape observation -- by avoiding obviously named apps and egregious prints to the debugging screen.
The interesting thing is that if Carrier IQ gets the boot or gets sued out of existence, it will create a vacuum in terms of telemetry gathering in the consumer space. As a company already deeply invested in tracking and telemetry solutions, that's just the kind of thing that could allow Intergis to get its talons on the consumer market.
We'll likely never know what the true motives are, but file this under "very interesting" in the ongoing Carrier IQ saga.
"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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