Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Motorola Mobility Smartphone Security issue: "Motorola is listening"

I recently learned of an interesting article:  "Motorola is listening".  Certainly in this times of heightened attitudes about data privacy, I think its important that people be aware of these things.

In a nutshell, the author discovered that his Motorola smartphone (a Droid X2) was sending a LOT of information to Motorola, despite not having Motoblur.

Now, a word about Motoblur.  Motorola Mobility rolled out this program as an enhanced UI for their earlier Android phones.  You initially couldn't use your phone without signing up with the Motoblur service.  You were encouraged to enter all your username and passwords for the various services you used (email accounts, twitter, facebook, etc), and it would give you alerts.  What I think most people didn't know was that this information was actually stored on Motorola's servers.  It's was kind of a cloud service without you realizing it.  I think this was done probably as you moved from phone to phone, you could just log back into your Motoblur account on your new phone and have all your settings there. 

But people hated Motoblur, and later versions were less intrusive.  AFAIK, in their most recent phones (the newest RAZR line), Motoblur is gone.  But they still use Motoblur for some things.  (When I was "dogfooding" new versions of Android on a RAZR M, the updates were sent to my phone via Motoblur).  I had to deal with Motoblur on my original Atrix 4G.  But I don't recall dealing with it on my Droid Bionic, and certainly didn't have it on my RAZR M.

The author's phone, AFAIK, doesn't have Motoblur, BUT it is interesting (and a bit scary) that Motorola Mobility still seems to be gathering information from his phone.  He has asked people with different models of Motorola phones to test them (he provides the tool he used) and report back on their results.  I recommend people take a look at this article for updates.  He has already put up several based on feedback.  Will be interesting to see where this goes.

And what about other companies?  Are Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc doing something similar?


2 comments:

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