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BlackBerry developer to meet with etisalat
[July 22, 2009]

BlackBerry developer to meet with etisalat


(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dubai: Etisalat officials are expected to meet representatives of Research in Motion (RIM) on Wednesday to discuss a statement issued by the latter suggesting that etisalat covertly installed surveillance software on its BlackBerry subscribers' devices.

"There is no dispute between us [and RIM]. We have asked for a meeting and you will know everything within 24 hours," an etisalat spokesperson said.Click here to download the Blackberry removal patch RIM issued a strongly worded statement, dated July 17, saying the software update etisalat issued to its BlackBerry customers earlier this month was designed to intercept private communication, contrary to etisalat's claim that it was intended for network performance enhancement.

It appears that RIM did not coordinate with the carrier or notify it before issuing the statement.


The spokesperson said etisalat does not want to issue any statements about the update before meeting with RIM. "It does not help for either side to be upset with the other," he said.

The incident has mushroomed into an international news story, with major technology sites and news organisations reporting on it, as well as blogs and social networking sites.

The update led to excessive battery drainage in BlackBerry phones, which experts attributed to communications interception software the operator pushed on subscribers.

In the eight-page "customer update" statement, RIM confirmed the experts' revelations and detailed a step-by-step guide to removing the update. A removal tool has also been made available on its website.

"Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application that was designed and developed by SS8& independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could then enable unauthorised access to private or confidential information stored on the user's smartphone," the statement read.

"RIM confirms that this software is not a patch and it is not a RIM authorised upgrade." In a statement issued last week etisalat said the update was intended to facilitate the "handover between 2G and 3G networks".

RIM said that such third-party patches "cannot provide any enhancements to network services as there is no capability for third parties to... [make] such improvements to the communications between a BlackBerry smartphone and a carrier's [etisalat's] network".

Since the surveillance functions of the update were revealed a number of companies and individuals took it upon themselves to issue a fix, and many of those who had the software installed on their devices say they have successfully removed it already.

Experts and BlackBerry users have said that the incident is likely to have a serious effect on etisalat's credibility. The operator has 145,000 BlackBerry subscribers in the UAE.

A challenge Experts have said that the main reason for consumers choosing BlackBerry phones was the privacy and security it offered until etisalat pushed the alleged surveillance software on to subscribers' devices.

While telecom operators in most countries can intercept all communication over their networks, the use of BlackBerry devices has posed a challenge for them since all communication other than text messages and phone calls goes through servers belonging to Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry's parent company, and are hence not easy to intercept.

The SS8 software that was installed on etisalat's BlackBerry subscribers was a way around that. The program was designed to send messages to etisalat servers from the device, and more importantly, keep a backdoor for etisalat open for the phone, keeping the option of further future interception open.

The backdoor works like a Trojan horse, experts have said. This security loophole option has been explored in other countries too. trojan horse Privacy violated Experts have said that the main reason consumers chose the BlackBerry was the privacy and security it offered until etisalat pushed the alleged surveillance software on to subscribers' devices.

While telecom operators can intercept all communication, BlackBerry devices have posed a challenge, since all communication other than text messages and calls go through servers belonging to Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry's parent company, and are hence not easy to intercept.

The installed software was a way around that. The programme was designed to send messages to etisalat servers from the device, keeping the option for further interception open.

It works like a Trojan horse, experts have said. This security loophole has been explored in other countries, too.

(c) 2009 Al Nisr Publishing LLC . All rights reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company

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