Former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden is reportedly working with a researcher from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab to build a device which will protect smartphones from government spies.
The device – a plastic case designed to slide over an Apple iPhone 6 – will monitor the phone’s antennas to detect any incoming or outgoing signals from the cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, or NFC radio chips.
The sensor-laden case will trigger an alarm if there is any snooping effort.
“Because the device is a separate piece of hardware, it would be secure against any effort to hack the phone’s operating system,” the Boston Globe reported on Friday.
The device is being created with the help of researcher Andrew Huang and was revealed at an event at the MIT Media Lab in the US.
Touted as a device that will help journalists in the field, it will detect whether a phone is sending or receiving unauthorised radio signals.
Snowden has highlighted the risk of phones getting infected with malware which ends up meddling with the signal transmitted via radio antennas.
The tech behind the iPhone case. (Photo Courtesy: Pubpub)
Smartphone users can deliberately or accidentally switch on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth even in airplane mode and the new device will eliminate these risks. It is claimed that the phone’s operating system will be secure against any hacking effort, considering the case is a separate piece of hardware.
The case may even be set to shut off an iPhone automatically if it detects unwanted transmissions.
Andrew HuangThe technical goal here is to make sure that the radios are really off. Think of the thing we’re doing as like a designated driver for the phone.
A working prototype device is expected to debut next year and the design and code will be open-sourced.
(With agency inputs)