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Posts Tagged ‘Carrier IQ’

Fake Leaked Memos And Closed BackDoors

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment

From an Information Security perspective this 2012 has begun with (too) many meaningful events, among which the most resounding so far, has been the alleged leak of portions of the source code belonging to several consumer and enterprise product by Symantec, a leading security vendor.

@YamaTough, a member of a hacking collective called “The Lords of Dharmaraja” (Dharmaraja is the Lord of Death and Justice in Hinduism) claimed paternity for an attack that, immediately after its execution, has unleashed a complicated story of Cyber Espionage full of twists and mysteries which has raised (and keeps on rising) many (un)resolved questions.

The Indian Mystery

Date

Event

Jan 5

@YamaTough, a member of an hacking group called, the Lords of Dharmaraja, leaks the source code of Symantec Endpoint Protection Enterprise Suite (SAVCE 10.2 and SEP11), approximately 5 years old. The source code was allegedly obtained from The hacking of Indian Military Servers.Symantec has admitted that “a segment of its source code used in two of our older enterprise products has been accessed”.

During the same operation the same hackers also leaked some other documents according to which:

  1. The Indian government has source code for Symantec’s AV software, albeit of 2006 vintage.
  2. The Indian government is strong arming cell phone manufacturers to provide back doors into their handsets (defined RINOA: RIM, Nokia and Apple).
  3. The Indian government is in possession of confidential internal communications from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).
  4. The Indian government is actively engaged in espionage efforts targeting not only the USCC, but potentially thousands of US government networks, ranging from those of federal agencies to systems used by state and municipal entities.

Jan 12

In any case, although the leaked source code is real, it looks like the Lords of Dharmaraja faked the government memo (in order to attract more attention) since some emails there contained (and purportedly obtained by the RINOA backdoors) were allegedly stolen from the Indian Embassy on Paris and appear to have already been leaked on pastebin in December by the same hacker @YamaTough. There are also several doubts on the fact that activities of the USCC could be of any interest to Indian intelligence.

Jan 13

As an announced trail of the controversial Cyber Espionage affair, @YamaTough releases the source code of Norton Utilities. The author claims the leak is in support of the lawsuit between Symantec and Jame Gross, a US resident who is taking the company to court for spreading scareware. The full Source Code of Norton Antivirus is announced for Tuesday, Jan the 17th.

Not only, according to the hackers, the source code has been found on a server belonging to India Military Intelligence, but also, together with the links to the Source Code, the hackers posted an Internal Memo of India Military Intelligence entitled “Tactical Network For Cellular Surveillance”, containing potentially explosive information. According to this controversial memo “in exchange for the Indian market presence” mobile device manufacturers, including RIM, Nokia, and Apple (collectively defined in the document as “RINOA”) have agreed to provide backdoor access on their devices. Moreover it looks like the a CYCADA Team used the backdoors for espionage actions against the  U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) and potentially against thousands of US government networks, ranging from those of federal agencies to systems used by state and municipal entities.

Although the implicated manufacturers firmly denied any connection, at first glance the hypothesis of a backdoor on our mobile companions seemed possible, also because it came immediately after another controversial event concerning mobile privacy, the infamous Carrier IQ rootkit found on many mobile devices.

A giant case of Cyber Espionage? Not actually! It looks like the whole story is showing an unpredictable conclusion (?). In the last days evidences are emerging that the Lords Of Dharmaraja faked the memo, maybe in order to obtain a greater attention on their operations. Although, as previously stated, Symantec has recognized parts of the source code on the leaked data, there are too many inconsistencies and incorrect information inside the memo, and also several of the emails allegedly obtained by mean of the RINOA backdoor had already been posted on December after the original attack made by the collective at the Indian Embassy in Paris (where the memo was leaked). Moreover, the letterhead on the memo comes from a military intelligence unit not involved in surveillance.

The mistery deepens, but in the meantime the Lords Of Dharmaraja keep on posting Symantec Code: Saturday Jan 14 the alleged Source Code of the Norton Utilities was released, the next Tuesday Jan 17, will be the turn of the full Norton Antivirus Source Code.

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Breaking: First Known Detection of Carrier IQ in Italy

December 12, 2011 2 comments

Update December 13: Carrier IQ issued an updated statement, new concerns for an endless saga…

I am proud to post here the first known detection in Italy of the infamous Carrier IQ software!

As you will probably know, everything started on Nov. 28, on the other side of the Atlantic, when Trevor Eckhart, an Android developer posted a video on YouTube showing the hidden software Carrier IQ interacting oddly with his mobile phone activity. Eckhart subsequently alleged his keystrokes and data were being collected without his permission.

Easily Predictable, speculation and accusations have immediately begun, concerning the kind of data collected by Carrier IQ and presumably transmitted to Wireless Mobile Operators: as a matter of fact subsequent investigations have shown that the Carrier IQ software is embedded on nearly every mobile phone and operator, at least in the U.S where concerns of consumer privacy led Massachusetts congressman Rep. Edward Markey to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company over concerns of consumer privacy.

But although many believed the software was logging keystrokes and collecting sensitive data, a subsequent more reasonable analysis carried on reversing the code, has shown a different scenario: the software “only” collects anonymized metrics data, although there are hooks inside the code to events such as keystrokes, possibly suggesting the implementation of this kind of functionality for future versions. Essentially the analysis confirmed the content of a statement by the company which attempted to clarify how information was being collected:

We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service.
While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video. For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen.

Nevertheless, since the clarifications did not mitigate the fact that Carrier IQ is s a potential risk to user privacy, and users may not choose to to disable it, As a consequence a bunch of Class Actions lawsuits have been filed against the main handset manufacturers and carriers including, besides the obvious Carrier IQ, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA, HTC, Apple, Samsung, and Motorola Mobility.

Of course European regulators could not remain indifferent, and started immediately to  investigate Carrier IQ. Germany’s Bavarian State Authority for Data Protection was the first to contact Apple, which publicly declared to have included Carrier IQ in earlier version of iOS, with support ceased with iOS 5 and completely removed for previous versions in future software updates. The German Example has immediately been followed not only by other  regulators in the U.K., France, Ireland and Italy, but also from organizations like BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation that defend the users’ right to be told how their data is used.

I was wondering if Europe’s concerns were exaggerated (since so far the scandal seemed to be contained in the U.S.) until a friend of mine decided to test one of the available Carrier IQ detection tools on his Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was purchased from 3, an Italian Mobile Operator belonging to the H3G Giant.

Of course the results are shown above: the tool detected the Carrier IQ software in an inactive state. The bad thing is that, although apparently inactive, my friend told me he was not able to remove the software following the different procedures available on the web even if he did not spend so much time in its removal. So far I can only show the screenshot but he told me he will give me his device for a deep analaysis (with caution since it is his work device).

Thinking at this strange encounter, I admit I could not help but think to Samsung’s official statement concerning Carrier IQ (and reported by Engadget):

Some Samsung mobile phones do include Carrier IQ, but it’s very important to note that it’s up to the carrier to request that Samsung include that software on devices. One other important point is that Samsung does not receive any consumer user information from the phones that are equipped with Carrier IQ.

Since it is up to the carrier to request the software to be included on Samsung devices, I presume that 3 could have decided to install it on all the devices for the Italian Market. I tested the tool on My HTC Desire and Sensation XE (both belonging to Telecom Italia Mobile) with no result.

Francesco Pizzetti, Italy’s Protection of Personal Data Guarantor will have a lot to do… meanwhile he opened an investigation into how Carrier IQ works and is checking Italian mobile phones to verify where the software is in use.

Mobile devices are more and more becoming inseparable companions for our personal and professional life, and deadly enemies for our privacy…

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