RIM: UAE Carrier's Blackberry update was spyware

A firmware update offere by UAE mobile carrier Etisalat was designed to spy on users, RIM has confirmed

A Blackberry firmware update pushed out to subscribers of United Arab Emirates carrier Etisalat contained spyware, Research in Motion confirmed Tuesday.

About a week ago, Blackberry users in the UAE began complaining that an update pushed out to Etisalat subscribers was killing battery life on their phones. The update was supposed to improve Blackberry performance, but after some investigation, technical users reported that it actually contained software that could spy on users activities.

On Tuesday, Blackberry's manufacturer, Research in Motion, confirmed that diagnosis and offered a new firmware update, designed to remove the spyware.

"Independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server," RIM said in a note on its Web site. The update was not written by RIM, the company noted.

In a July 17 note to customers, posted Tuesday to the Dutch Web site Automation Guide, RIM explained things in more detail, saying that, "Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application that was designed and developed by SS8."

SS8 is a Milpitas, California, company that develops communications surveillance products for law enforcement. The company did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment.

Etisalat has described the problem as a "slight technical fault," and said that the company's 145,000 subscribers can uninstall the update by pressing 101 on their phones.

The company, which is based in Abu Dhabi, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesspywareRIM BlackBerry

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?