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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this is actually entertaining
12/18/2011 8:48:28 PM
you guys are silly. i used to work at intergis with trevor (until of course all of its assets were assumed by telogis a year ago).
telogis and intergis were competitors in the market we call MRM (mobile resource management). this is just software that helps business that deliver things (like soda, or medical supplies, or furniture) efficiently, to help save gas and hours etc.
they did have handheld software that utilizes gps tracking (as ALL MRM companies do - see UPS's MobileCast addon for their RoadNet software) but this is entirely different from carrier IQ's application. gps software for MRM is designed to acquire a gps fix on a standard interval, and plot it on a map so that dispatchers back at homebase can make sure their drivers aren't goofing off. another thing the software applications do is send the drivers a list of workorders so that the companies can "go green" and eliminate paper and whatnot.
-tracks drivers' locations
-allows workorder transmitting
-the company that OWNS the truck/phone/employee PURPOSEFULLY installs it, understanding its capabilities
-tracks and stores most user input
-harvests data from peripherals (gps points)
-is installed on our phones without us knowing, and without us understanding its capabilities.
as said above by another user, the only reason why trev found it is because he has worked with mobile device software. this is the only way these two situations are related.
i for one want it removed because it wastes a collosal amount of resources on my phone, and drains my battery. and even if it isn't outright transmitting the data it collects, i dont want someone else to figure out how to exploit it.
its basically the situation of why we don't leave dangerous objects of any kind laying around. they wont hurt you if no one touches them, but they can if they get into the wrong hands.
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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