Carrier IQ Whistleblower Trevor Eckhart Works for Tracking Firm
December 13, 2011 3:45 PM
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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.
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Not buying this
12/15/2011 11:56:25 AM
With all due respect, let me see if I follow your logic here, Daily Tech:
Trevor finds a hidden rootkit that has been running undetected on 150 million smartphones without end users' (or even some manufacturers like RIM) knowledge for years and, instead of keeping it quiet and allowing his company's product to sneak in undetected as well, he exposes it with the entire goal of pissing off the masses. He asks the people who watch his videos to donate to the EFF so that a well-funded legal team can take action to prevent such practices in the future since mobile device user rights have been the wild west for years, thereby allowing product manufacturers and carriers to log whatever end user data they want without legal precedent to prevent them from doing so. Ultimately an FBI investigation ensues, multiple lawsuits are filed, countless users are furious, and high-level United States Senators and Congressman (including Kennedy and Chaffetz) are now currently investigating and drafting legislation to prevent such practices from even occurring again - all a direct result from Trevor's expose.
- and your conclusion to all this is that Trevor must be involved in some secret corporate conspiracy and creating all this so that HIS company can swoop in a replicate the same very same practice that law firms, congress, the FBI, and end users are demanding go away forever?? Please...
I agree with the other user above: The reason nobody else has picked up your story is because it makes no sense. Also, do better homework next time. Integris no longer even exists, it is now owned by Telogis, a company that helps route shipping and deliveries - hardly the same thing as a rootkit that logs my phonepad keypresses every time I call my bank and am asked to enter my 16-digit account/card number at the prompt.
Occam's Razor applies here. Which is the more likely explanation: This is all some big conspiracy created by a company whose business has nothing to do with data mining users, or some computer nerd caught a secret app that illegally wiretaps and wants it removed from his phone.
RE: Not buying this
12/16/2011 1:00:07 AM
Actually to set the record straight, the execs from Carrier IQ have met personally with Congressmen and the Feds. There is no official investigation although the execs requested an inquiry in order to clear the companies name and requested such meetings and transparency.
The main document released from a few days ago pretty much shoots holes all through Trevor's work. He did a shoddy job of QA if you ask me, and published his findings without any of it being substantiated from the XDA community.
It took a week for the security experts to de-compile the program and basically the consciousness from everyone is that Trevor was wrong. Not a little off but way off. None the less the damage has been done and no body cares what the truth is.
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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