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Edward Snowden Designs Phone Case to Thwart Gov't Surveillance

Image: Edward Snowden Designs Phone Case to Thwart Gov't Surveillance
(Edward Snowden/Andrew Huang) 

By    |   Thursday, 21 Jul 2016 07:33 PM

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Thursday announced the design of a smartphone case that could prevent governments or hackers from accessing information from users' devices.

Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia to avoid prosecution by the U.S. government on espionage charges for taking 1.7 million highly classified documents obtained as part of his job at the National Security Agency, released a paper he wrote with Andrew "Bunnie" Huang on the prototype.

The two appeared Thursday at a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Snowden appeared via video feed, McClatchy reports.

According to the paper, the case is intended to be used by journalists, human rights workers and others whose movements could be tracked by hostile governments or hackers.

Snowden and Huang say that putting a phone in "airplane mode" does not always keep hostile actors from tapping into a phone, but the case would alert users to hacking attempts.

"Turning off radios by entering airplane mode is no defense," they write. "[F]or example, on iPhones since iOS 8.2, GPS is active in airplane mode. Malware packages, peddled by hackers at a price accessible by private individuals, can activate radios without any indication from the user interface; 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 devise is called an "introspection engine," they say. "The introspection engine has the capability to alert a reporter of a dangerous situation in real-time. "The core principle is simple: if the reporter expects radios to be off, alert the user when they are turned on."

Snowden and Huang said they aim to have a prototype within the next year and intend to offer it for sale if it works as they expect it to, McClatchy reported.

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Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Thursday announced the design of a smartphone case that could prevent governments or hackers from accessing information from users' devices.
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2016-33-21
Thursday, 21 Jul 2016 07:33 PM
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