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Edward Snowden has designed an iPhone attachment to detect unwanted radio transmissions

By Shawn Knight ยท 9 replies
Jul 21, 2016
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  1. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has teamed up with renowned hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang on the development of an iPhone accessory designed to detect when the phone’s radios are actively transmitting.

    The idea behind the device is to provide reporters and journalists traveling in dangerous regions with a way to determine if their iPhone is being tracked or otherwise giving up its location.

    Certain governments, they claim, have access to high-level hacking techniques and can even deploy malware that can trick people into thinking their device is off when it’s really awake and actively eavesdropping on conversations.

    The accessory, which is designed to look somewhat like a standard phone case, will feature a mono-color screen and function like an oscilloscope by routing tiny wires into the iPhone through the SIM card slot (the SIM card would be moved and housed inside the accessory) and attaching to test points on the phone’s circuit board.

    The wires would be capable of reading electrical signals from the phone’s antennas and warn the user if radios are transmitting when they shouldn’t be. Huang tells Wired that their device may even include a kill switch that would turn the handset off automatically.

    Dubbed an introspection engine, the device is little more than a concept at this point. The duo say they’ll lean on Chinese manufacturers to build it and that both the software and hardware will be fully open-source to curb any potential tinkering by its manufacturers.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,465   +635


    This may sell well if they can accomplish the design goals.
  3. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 768   +293

    Funny that they would task the Chinese to build it.
    mosu likes this.
  4. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,209   +669

    Except WiFi and Blue Tooth rarely pass through the SIM (if ever, to my knowledge). How do they monitor that?
  5. Very good. Does a siren go off with a rotating red light if spurious emissions are detected?
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,965   +1,230

    Ok, for the conspiracy crowd...why do you think most cell phones now, have "non removable" batteries.
    Because they are in bed with the governments to track you. LOL.
    Hey, instead of buying something to let you know "you are being tracked", simply carry a piece of aluminum
    foil with you. If you are that worried, turn off the phone, wrap it in tin-foil, and don't worry about buying an
    expensive toy that does it.

    Reminds me in the late 60's...the USA at some sort of engineering thingy, was beaming like a proud new
    papa about how they went to all the trouble to invent a pressurized ink pen cartridge, that would write up side down, or in zero gravity. When the Russians were asked about writing in zero gravity, they simply
    said "we just use pencil"...
  7. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 566   +323

    I thought the pen was developed so that Astronauts could write in space...
  8. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    Here I looked it up for you: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-nasa-spen/ . Don't mention it!
  9. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,965   +1,230

    It was, but, simply the Russians used a pencil.
  10. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,209   +669

    Do you know why we used a pen over a pencil? The graphite dust and wood shavings were breathed in by cosmonauts/astronauts, clogged the air system, and had the potential to short out the electrical system and start a fire.

    Also, I'm not sure that aluminum foil would be able to stop the 14-40cm waves of 4G LTE - those wave sizes were selected to maximize penetration into buildings. I would bet that they would zip right past a piece of uncharged aluminum foil. Maybe if you attached it to an AC source set to around the same frequency (750-2150MHz), you might be able to block it, but that would only target 4G LTE, nevermind the 3G, 2G, BT, WiFi, GPS, AM/FM, and the emergency radios. It all seems a little impractical when compared to putting the SIM card behind a manual on/off switch. It wouldn't do anything about GPS, BT or WiFi, but at least it is better than nothing, and GPS can be taken care of by going inside/underground, and BT/WiFi have pretty limited ranges.

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