Following the news this week that Carrier IQ software installed on the majority of Android phones and some Symbian and Nokia devices tracks users, some information has come to light about how users can protect their privacy.
There’s no simple way to go about this, the software can’t be uninstalled as the GUI on any of the phones don’t even recognise that it’s there, it simply sits in the background recording your information.
Indeed, it seems that it’s all but impossible to find the software on a device without programming knowledge.
The Carrier IQ app logs keystrokes, records texts and numbers, indeed pretty much tracks everything users do on their phone, as well as where they go via location services.
New reports suggest that the software even logs details of secure sessions carried out when a user is surfing the net.
According to a report from The Hacker News, there is a workaround which will protect devices and this is to “root” your phone.
The report suggests that the best way to go about this is to visit the XDA Forum and look for a custom ROM for your particular device.
There is no easy way to explain the process in one article, as users will have to find the various ways to go about this for their phone.
The Hacker News say that the XDA forums have step-by-step guides on how best to root a device and that the “best bet is to look for AOSP or Vanilla ROMS.”
Users are advised to ensure that the ROMs found are free from Carrier IQ software, the above ROMs “have been built entirely from the open source code for Android that’s released by Google each time a new version comes out.”
This means that “these ROMs will be free from carrier and device manufacturer tinkering, and won’t have Carrier IQ hiding in the background,” The Hacker News say.
“Another great custom ROM solution is Cyanogenmod [which] has some nice additional tweaks and features above stock Android, and is definitely the most well respected and most frequently updated custom ROM out there.”
Whilst this may seem like an extreme and complicated measure which many users will find beyond their capability, right now it’s the only solution available.
There’s no way to opt out of the Carrier IQ software and there’s no other way to uninstall, or even find, the app.
Whilst it seems likely that the software and manufacturers will come under scrutiny from regulators at some point, for the time being, this is the only way to protect user privacy on an Android device.