Edward Snowden Has Plans of Constructing a Phone Case Able of Notifying You if (and When) You’re Being Listened by NSA

Edward Snowden uncovered probably the biggest NSA affair in history, telling the world that everyone everywhere can be overheard by NSA, no matter if they are using a phone, tablet or a computer. All that brought a worldwide investigation resulted in some interesting findings. We discovered that NSA listened to the phones of big name politicians, corporation owners and that they have a mammoth database of personal info, which only gets bigger and bigger. Snowden is now wanted by the US, for various charges revolving around sharing a top-secret information. Now, the hacking genius has plans of making a phone (iPhone to be more specific) case that will let you know when NSA is spying on you.

It’s all really cool and is discussed in detail inside his research dealing with phone “hardware introspection” which he worked on along his colleague Andrew Huang. They presented the research at MIT (well Snowden wasn’t physically present since he’s living now in Moscow), and in short, they plan on giving regular users a way to see when their phone is sending out signals to intelligence agencies. As you probably know, our phones can send signals containing information even if we turn off all of the location settings, even if we put the phone in airplane mode.

They want to focus on journalists and activists since those two groups are most frequent under surveillance because eavesdropping on them can uncover information nobody wants to share. For instance, identities of sources, communication between activists, a secure information about subjects reporters write about, etc.

Image Credit: Andrew Huang/Edward Snowden

Image Credit: Andrew Huang/Edward Snowden

In their paper, they explained how what you see on your phone’s screen isn’t always accurate. For instance, putting your phone in airplane mode still, keeps the GPS active (in the latest version of iOS at least) enabling hackers to get info about your location and movement. Also, turning off Bluetooth isn’t enough because it can be made into sending signals nevertheless. They explained this in a very curious manner, “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.”

For now, they have plans to build a phone case able to scan and check if the phone is transmitting signals and notice the user of suspicious signals transmitting, like in the case when the phone is in airplane mode. They plan on building a case just for 4.7-inch iPhone 6, but in the future, there is a possibility of supporting more models.

Aside from keeping the phone (and user) safe, the case will also act as an additional power source. Snowden and Huang plan to make a working prototype by the end of this year. You can see the paper here.

It’s good to see that somebody actually cares about our privacy, and even if this case could be used by terrorists, for instance, it could really give journalists and activists an extra layer of safety. We just only hope that in the future, if the project ends up successful, they will support more phone models.

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