Mobile devices bring us great convenience, but they also put users at risk by constantly sending user data such as geographical location to the network. Therefore, people who are concerned about privacy and data security may consider mobile devices as a spy tool.
Edward Snowden is definitely one of them. When Snowden met with journalists in Hong Kong to disclose secrete files of the National Security Agency, he asked them to put their phones in refrigerators to prevent radio signals being sent out. Now, Snowden has decided to help the non-technical public solve smartphone radio surveillance problems.
On Thursday at the MIT Media Lab, Snowden and Andrew Huang, well-known hardware hacker, presented designs for a case-like device that wires into iPhone’s guts to monitor the electrical signals sent to its internal antennas. The main function of the case, Snowden and Huang said, is to constantly check on smartphones’ radios and let users know if any data is being transmitting outwards. The two-person team said that they hoped to offer strong privacy guarantees to mobile phone users, especially people like journalists who need to carry their devices into hostile foreign countries without exposing their real locations. In fact, even when users set their mobile devices to “airplane mode”, radios could still be transmitting and their whereabouts may be exposed.
At this stage, the add-on is only compatible with iPhone 6, but Snowden and Huang said that they would keep working on the designs and create a normative design for wider usage.