NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden collaborates on ultra-secure iPhone case

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in iPhone
Despite being exiled in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is reportedly working with a famous hardware hacker on an iPhone case designed to eliminate the risk of snooping by outside parties.

A mockup of the proposed case.
A mockup of the proposed case.


The case -- being created with the help of Andrew "Bunnie" Huang -- was revealed today during an event at the MIT Media Lab, Wired said on Thursday. Though still in a concept phase, the case would snake wires into an iPhone's SIM slot, attaching to test points on the circuitboard. To accommodate this, the SIM card itself would have to be relocated into the case.

The accessory would then monitor GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular radios, and trigger an alert if they're active when they're not supposed to be. Sophisticated hackers -- such as those at the NSA -- can potentially use malware to make it seem like a phone is silent while it's actually broadcasting. Even without code designed to specifically snoop on an individual, captured radio data can be used to pinpoint a person's location or monitor their activity.

As a more extreme solution, the case might even be set to shut off an iPhone automatically if it detects unwanted transmissions.

A working prototype case is expected to debut in the next year, and the long-term goal is to launch a Chinese supply chain of modified iPhones that can be supplied to journalists. The design and any original code will be open-source.

Snowden, most famous for exposing the NSA's mass surveillance program in 2013, is working on the project as a director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He noted that he hasn't carried a smartphone since his 2013 leak, since he's worried that the U.S. government could use it to find him.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 449member
    I like this part: "A working prototype case is expected to debut in the next year, and the long-term goal is to launch a Chinese supply chain of modified iPhones that can be supplied to journalists. The design and any original code will be open-source." So, the Chinese will be able to hack the iPhones. The Chinese will love this.
    Deelronpatchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 17
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,154member
    Of your that concerned about your privacy that you think you need this, then just stop using a smartphone and the internet as a whole. This is bonkers. 
  • Reply 3 of 17
    Of your that concerned about your privacy that you think you need this, then just stop using a smartphone and the internet as a whole. This is bonkers. 
    Because governments are totes trustworthy, right?
    irelandlostkiwibpg131313cali
  • Reply 4 of 17
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 425member
    Of your that concerned about your privacy that you think you need this, then just stop using a smartphone and the internet as a whole. This is bonkers. 
    Not for terrorists...they will love this!
  • Reply 5 of 17
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 425member
    Of your that concerned about your privacy that you think you need this, then just stop using a smartphone and the internet as a whole. This is bonkers. 
    Because governments are totes trustworthy, right?
    Don't be surprised if Putin has a backdoor key to this device wink wink
    edited July 2016 macseeker
  • Reply 6 of 17
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 172member
    A question would be how does it know when the GPS and wifi are supposed to be used?

    It seems that knowing how this monitoring circuitry works would make it easy to bypass. It's usually foolish to think you've made something that can't be monitored. The PC industry has been fighting this for years with hackers finding new ways to get inside. The NSA would probably like it because it would cause a false sense of security.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    irelandireland Posts: 17,669member
    I'll also add a comment that contributes nothing seeing as that's what everyone else here is doing.
    stanthemansingularitycali
  • Reply 8 of 17
    prokipprokip Posts: 150member
    ireland said:
    I'll also add a comment that contributes nothing seeing as that's what everyone else here is doing.
    But you sir  ireland are one of the usual suspects for doing just that.  I mean 15,526 post on this forum... do you have a day job?
    lostkiwistantheman
  • Reply 9 of 17
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,698member
    But if you act now, you'll get not one, but TWO universal tinfoil hats for the low-low price of $1.99!!  This is for a limited time only people!!
    jfc1138
  • Reply 10 of 17
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,302member
    VERY interesting.  However, this is the kind of innovation *Apple* should be developing, if Tim Cook is truly sincere about his commitment to user privacy and security!  
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 11 of 17
    jdwjdw Posts: 785member
    A case that protects on the back bottom 60%? Silly not to make it a normal case that covers the entire back. Throw in a battery too, and then you have it all: case protection, security and more battery life!
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 12 of 17
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Tinfoil would be far cheaper.....
    eliangonzal
  • Reply 13 of 17
    He is **not** "in exile." He deliberately fled to China (Hong Kong is still China, techie boyz) before skipping to Russia, a place he declared to be freer than the United States.

    And in a final bit of irony, pseudo-liberatarian techie boyz probably still think of him in romantic terms for his theft, while bib-dribbling about Hillary's emails which no one can prove have ever been leaked somewhere to damage the United States.

    Unlike your played out, trying to remain relevant hero.
    daven
  • Reply 14 of 17
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,095member
    On a slightly related note police are reportedly in the process of getting help in spoofing user fingerprints to unlock smartphones. What I didn't know until now is that they have a workaround for today's sensors that require living tissue or it's equivalent and won't work with a simple plastic or rubber replica of a fingerprint.

    http://www.androidcentral.com/police-look-unlock-smartphone-using-3d-printed-fingerprints
  • Reply 15 of 17
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Why not hire this guy to work for Apple? Never mind they would probably end up in court somehow.

    gatorguy said:
    On a slightly related note police are reportedly in the process of getting help in spoofing user fingerprints to unlock smartphones. What I didn't know until now is that they have a workaround for today's sensors that require living tissue or it's equivalent and won't work with a simple plastic or rubber replica of a fingerprint.

    http://www.androidcentral.com/police-look-unlock-smartphone-using-3d-printed-fingerprints

    I've brought this up before.

    The solution is easy, use Apple Watch tech to make sure there's a pulse in the finger.


    hoodslide
  • Reply 16 of 17
    netroxnetrox Posts: 780member
    I am skeptical - how can you have communication if your address is not known? Isn't that a fact that with cell and wifi, it has to locate and pick up signal?

    Isn't that a fact that all telecommunication companies are required to log the time and the location of all calls, incoming and outcoming? 


    gatorguy
  • Reply 17 of 17
    netrox said:
    I am skeptical - how can you have communication if your address is not known? Isn't that a fact that with cell and wifi, it has to locate and pick up signal?

    Isn't that a fact that all telecommunication companies are required to log the time and the location of all calls, incoming and outcoming? 


    Well, yeah. You'll turn on the radios on when you need them. But when you turn them OFF, the device will tell you if they're not as "off" as the phone indicates.
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