Just how secure is your smartphone? Are the Feds listening in on you, with each keystroke of the virtual keyboard or whisper into the handset's microphone? We will not really know for sure, but fret not -- the people's champion, Edward Snowden, has come up with an interesting device that is capable of warning the handset's owner as to whether the iPhone's radios are snitching on you.
Remember the time when Edward Snowden met up with a gaggle of reporters in a Hong Kong hotel room as he chose that place to share all of the goings-on at the NSA? Well, he did make a rather unusual request -- to place their handsets in the fridge so that any kind of radio signals which could be used to activate the devices' microphones or cameras remotely will be silenced.
Was that an example of extreme paranoia? Not quite, as Edward Snowden and well-known hardware hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang has come up with an iPhone modification that puts to bed any kind of potential smartphone radio surveillance issues, and you do not have to lug around a hotel mini-bar with you.
The MIT Media Lab was the location of choice this time around for Snowden Huang to unveil designs for a case-like device which will be intricately wired into your iPhone's innards. This device will then get to work by monitoring any kind of electrical signals that are sent to its internal antennas. The whole idea is so that such a device will be able to perform constant checks on your device's radios whenever they are transmitting.
In other words, it is a whole lot more secure and trustworthy as opposed to simply turning your handset on to "airplane mode". After all, there has been examples of devices in "airplane mode" being hacked and spoofed before. With such a guarantee of strong privacy for smartphone owners, those who might think that they are being checked on or eavesdropped will be able to sleep better at night.
Not only that, smartphone owners who want to ensure that their handsets are shielded from government-funded adversaries who are stocked to the nines with all sorts of James Bond-like hacking and surveillance tools can jump aboard this bandwagon. Reporters are not forgotten her, as they too, can bring their respective communication devices with them into countries that are less than friendly, without having to reveal their existing location by accident or design.
Snowden mentioned to the MIT Media Lab crowd via video stream, "One good journalist in the right place at the right time can change history. This makes them a target, and increasingly tools of their trade are being used against them." Huang continued, "They're overseas, in Syria or Iraq, and those [governments] have exploits that cause their phones to do things they don't expect them to do. You can think your phone's radios are off, and not telling your location to anyone, but actually still be at risk."
The device is right now known as the "introspection engine" for the iPhone 6, and the add-on would function as more than an external battery case in addition to a tiny mono-color display, working as a miniature, form-fitting oscilloscope of sorts.