UAE BlackBerry Update A Surveillance App

by Bharat Suneja

Unsuspecting BlackBerry customers in the UAE have been pushed out a surveillance app disguised as a BlackBerry update by telco Etisalat. Rather than improve BlackBerry handheld performance, the update emails received messages back to a central server! After downloading the app developed by Milpitas, CA-based SS8, a provider of communications intercept and surveillance solutions, users reported significantly reduced battery life, poor reception and in some cases, handsets stopped working altogether.

The telco in question calls it a “slight technical fault”, saying that the “upgrades were required for service enhancements”.

BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion said that it did not authorize the software installation and “was not involved in any way in the testing, promotion or distribution of this software application.”

“Independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could … enable unauthorized access to private or confidential information stored on the user’s smart phone,’ it said in a statement.

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