The American computer professional who worked previously as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden has announced that he is spearheading a project to build the first-ever phone case that will detect spy attacks on mobile phones.
Mr Snowden made headlines around the world in 2013, after he copied and leaked classified information from the NSA belonging to the United States government. His disclosures revealed how the American government had covertly spied on its citizens – and the rest of the world – in the name of a so-called national security.
The damning revelations exposed the American government, even among its allies. The Department of Justice later unsealed charges against Mr Snowden, forcing him to seek asylum in Russia. Currently, Snowden is living at an undisclosed location in the country.
From where he lives now in Russia, Snowden has announced that he is building the phone case in partnership with a colleague, which is capable of telling the owner when the phone is being hacked by spies or other cyber criminals.
The case will be important for mobile phones, especially smartphones. It will monitor components inside the phone, spotting when it is sending data unexpectedly. Snowden revealed that so far, only plans for an iPhone 6 case have been drawn up, but sleeves for other phones could shortly follow.
The case would be built around a small self-contained computer and have a small screen. This would display a real-time readout of a phone’s cellular, GPS, wi-fi and Bluetooth status. Status information about these components will be read from test points on a phone’s circuit board, which can then be reached via a connector plugging in through the device’s SIM card slot. Instead of being slotted into the phone, the SIM card will be inserted in the case.
The case will be targeted at activists, aid workers and journalists who need to conceal their whereabouts, and other sensitive information from spies and cyber criminals.
Snowden is building the case in close collaboration with fellow American computer hacker, Andrew Huang. Mr Huang holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of the book titled Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering.
Mr Huang and Mr Snowden wrote in a blogpost that Smartphones are the perfect tracking device among all mobile phones, hence the need for users to have something to protect their privacy.
They said governments, law enforcement agencies, other security services, and even cyber criminals are aware of this weakness of such devices. These entities therefore track their targets in order to steal their information to do what they want with it.
According to them, to combat and save people from these unscrupulous spies, they have started to work on an introspection engine that keeps an eye on the radio components inside a smartphone.
“This work aims to give journalists the tools to know when their smart phones are tracking or disclosing their location when the devices are supposed to be in airplane mode. Trusting a phone that has been hacked to go into airplane mode is like trusting a drunk person to judge if they are sober enough to drive”, the two men said.
They also revealed that fixing a phone with one of their anti-spying case would probably require the services of a trained engineer or technician.
Currently, the two experts are working on turning what they have put on paper, into a tangible object. They are hoping to launch the first prototype of the case in July, 2017. Many are happy that Snowden is leading such a project.
The two men presented their idea of the ant-spying phone case at this year’s Forbidden Research conference, held at MIT. According to organizers of the Forbidden Research Conference, the idea behind the conference is to challenge participants to question long-standing laws and rules about what knowledge human beings can seek, and whether that knowledge improves or impedes the health and sustainability of the society at large.
You want to support Anonymous Independent & Investigative News? Please, follow us on Twitter: Follow @AnonymousNewsHQ
This article (Edward Snowden Develops Phone Case to Detect Spy Attacks on Mobile Phones) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and AnonHQ.com.