RIM Explains How to Remove Carrier IQ From BlackBerry Devices

 
 
By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-12-15 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

News Analysis: After repeatedly claiming that RIM does not authorize carriers to install Carrier IQ's tracking software on its BlackBerry devices and then learning that carriers did it anyway, RIM is telling users how to get rid of it.

When Carrier IQ's mobile device monitoring software first came to everyone's attention after a security researcher demonstrated how it logged everything from text messages to locations on a Sprint Android phone, there was a lot of consternation over which devices might actually be stealthily loaded with the application.

Carrier IQ has the ability to create software for virtually every mobile platform out there except Windows Mobile 7. However, there were assurances that the software really wasn't on every phone, or even used by every carrier.

Verizon Wireless, for example, said it does not use Carrier IQ at all. AT&T and T-Mobile confirmed that they do use the software. T-Mobile released a statement that it only uses the software for improving call quality.

Research In Motion said it does not install Carrier IQ on any of its devices, and does not authorize carriers to install it. The company also told eWEEK at the time that there have been circumstances in the past where similar software was installed on its devices and that it had helped users remove it.

Last week, however, a leaked T-Mobile internal document revealed which phones include Carrier IQ software. It turns out that T-Mobile installs Carrier IQ on three BlackBerry devices in spite of RIM's policy that it should not be doing so. Those BlackBerry devices in the memo are the new touch-screen Bold 9900, the Curve 9360 and the new full touch-screen Torch 9810. The document also shows that the Carrier IQ software was installed on Android phones from T-Mobile.

The Android devices are covered in the description furnished by Trevor Eckhart in his Android Security Test. Eckhart also provides software and instructions for removing Carrier IQ from Android phones, but the problem is that you must "root" your phone and replace the operating system to get rid of it.

RIM's description of the BlackBerry solution is less likely to cause problems, and the company has provided instructions on getting rid of Carrier IQ from every BlackBerry platform capable of supporting it.

A senior RIM executive provided to eWEEK the instructions for removing the Carrier IQ software. BlackBerry users should look for an app called "IQ Agent." Note that this procedure will work with any third-party application on your BlackBerry device, including Carrier IQ.

This means that if you travel someplace where the authorities routinely place monitoring software on your BlackBerry, you can get that off too. This procedure is also useful for killing that memory-hungry version of Solitaire that causes problems when some other memory-intensive app runs and needs more space.



 
 
 
 
Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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