Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Researcher: Middle East Blackberry Update Spies on Users

Kim Zetter writes on Threat Level:

A Blackberry update that a United Arab Emirates service provider pushed out to its customers contains U.S.-made spyware that would allow the company or others to siphon and read their e-mail and text messages, according to a researcher who examined it.

The update was billed as a “performance enhancement patch” by the UAE-based phone and internet service provider Etisalat, which issued the patch for its 100,000 subscribers.

The patch only drew attention after numerous users complained that it drained their Blackberry battery and slowed performance, according to local publication ITP.

Nigel Gourlay, a Qatar-based programmer who examined the patch, told ITP that the patch contained “phone-home” code that instructed the Blackberries to contact a server to register. But once the patch was installed, thousands of devices tried to contact the server simultaneously, crashing it and causing their batteries to drain.

More here.


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