Edward Snowden shot to global popularity after leaking top secret documents which revealed the extent of the National Security Agency’s electronic spying programs. He has been pretty vocal about how electronic devices can be used to spy on unsuspecting users and often offers tips on how people can protect themselves. He has now designed a new iPhone case which will alert users if their phone is spying on them.
Snowden and popular hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang will be presenting their designs for an iPhone case at the MIT Media Lab later today. The case wires into the iPhone’s hardware to keep an eye on electrical signals being sent to its internal antennas.
This will constantly keep a check on whether the phone’s internal radios are transmitting and to give people complete peace of mind when their phone is in airplane mode. Huang and Snowden describe their invention for the iPhone as an “introspection engine,” the case has tiny probe wires that access the iPhone’s internals through the SIM card slot and attach to test points on the iPhone’s circuit board.
These wires then read electrical signals being sent to the two antennas used by cellular radios which include Wi-Fi and GPS. The case will warn users if the phone tries to transmit something that it’s not supposed to, like GPS location even when it has been explicitly turned off by the user.
“We want to give a you-bet-your-life assurance that the phone actually has its radios off when it says it does,” Huang says. Unfortunately, they’re far from starting to sell this case because they haven’t even built a prototype yet. The invention is currently limited to a detailed paper that the two have presented today and it’s unclear if and when this case will be released as a product.
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