The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'phone'
The FBI has revealed that they have recently used a suspect's mobile phone to monitor their (non-phone) conversation. Which means that either (a) the mobile phone standards (at least those used in the US) allow the operators to switch phones into always-on bug mode when needed (i.e., such a mode is part of the standards), or (b) the operators can silently replace the firmware on such a phone at will, adding hidden "features". The phones in question can serve as Big Brother's ears even when ostensibly powered off.
On the Slashdot discussion, a number of posters have claimed to have seen proof that government agencies have the means to activate mobile phones to act surreptitiously as bugs. (And if the FBI can do it, chances are that more ambiguous agencies can do it as well.) Meanwhile, others have pointed out that, even if this is the case, it's easy to detect if your phone is spying on you by either (a) keeping it near audio equipment that it interferes with when transmitting (hint: if it's causing interference whilst switched off, something's afoot), or (b) getting one of those cheap LED antenna attachments that flashes when exposed to RF signals. And here is a guide on how to tell if your phone is surreptitiously spying on you.
Hot on the heels of the TrollTech Greenphone, a company named FIC is releasing an open-source, Linux-based mobile phone. The OpenMoko won't have WiFi (as the GreenPhone will), but it will have a GPS receiver built in, as well as Bluetooth, USB, a MicroSD slot and a multi-touch touchscreen capable of understanding two-fingered dragging gestures. More importantly, it's not so much a mobile phone (which is to say, a locked-down proprietary appliance) as an openly hackable general-purpose computer with a GSM module and GPS receiver attached. (The radio components are, for regulatory reasons, closed modules; everything else, though, is fair game.) And apparently it will have a Debian-style package management system built in which can download new (or updated) software components on demand. And, also unlike the Greenphone, it will be released to the mass market (they say in January, which could mean sometime in the first half of 2007).