The Spy in your Pocket
We have been working closely with our customers and partners to deliver a modern smartphone platform that is appropriate for sensitive government work. When we talk with customers about their requirements, one of the things we hear most often is the need to protect users against surveillance from foreign governments and 3rd parties who could determine user identities.
However, what we had not heard – until now – was the need to protect against journalists who can track the President of the United States. Last week an investigative series published in the New York Times, Smartphones Are Spies. Here’s Whom They Report To detailed how smartphone location tracking collects information from as many as a billion users without their knowledge, and how that information can be used to construct very accurate views of their lives.
By their own admission, the journalists are nowhere near as technically sophisticated as foreign intelligence agencies or technology vendors. They were still able to determine identity, work location, home location, hobbies, travel, and personal associations for officials in the White House, Supreme court, House and Senate, and the Pentagon.
How does it happen that the smartphones used by top government officials have such a serious vulnerability? You might assume they were regular personal phones, but they were not. These are official, policy-approved, IT-managed and certified phones. They are just not good enough to keep our government users safe from tracking.
The problem is that all commercial smartphones are architected to allow the OEM (the phone maker) the platform provider (companies like Google and Apple), advertisers, and application providers (companies like Facebook) to collect a continuous stream of information about the user 24 hours a day. Your IT department can’t turn it off, and the OEMs selling the phones can’t turn it off either.
These vulnerabilities highlight some of the reasons why CIS has developed an alternate operating system for government customers. We are not a part of the user-monetization complex afflicting smartphones today. With our platform, customers get modern Android smartphones that they genuinely control, and that won’t leak this kind of sensitive data exhaust.
Please contact us at CIS for more information or to schedule a demonstration.