Edward Snowden designs phone cover that prevents data monitoring
Whistleblower Edward Snowden and hardware hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang have designed a phone cover; dubbed as the "introspection engine". The cover is aimed to stop a phone from transmitting data and the location of a user without the user's consent - it is basically an anti-spying measure. However, the cover is still an academic project and is yet to reach the prototype stage.
How does the phone cover work?
The phone cover, a self-contained device sporting a small screen, will connect to a phone's various radio transmitters. The cover will monitor these transmitters and show users when cellular data, GPS, bluetooth or WiFi connections are being used to transmit or receive data. However, fitting a phone with such a cover will probably require the expertise of an engineer or a technician.
The anti-snooping cover comes only for iPhones so far
Snowden and Huang's anti-snooping cover has only been designed for iPhone 6 so far, but it is expected that designs for other phones will soon follow. Apart from its anti-snooping capabilities, the cover will reportedly also provide iPhones with extra battery power.
Why design such a phone cover?
Edward Snowden and Andrew Huang described smartphones as the "perfect tracking device". Governments and security agencies often target smartphones to locate individuals working against their interests, be it dissidents, journalists, critics etc. Furthermore, smartphones are often targeted by cyber criminals who install malware to steal a user's data. The cover is thus aimed to help people conceal their whereabouts and data.
"Assume that your phone is compromised"
"You can think your phone's radios are off, and not telling your location to anyone, but actually still be at risk. Our approach is: state-level adversaries are powerful, assume the phone is compromised," said Andrew Huang on the dangers of being monitored by the state.