Etisalat Network In The United Arab Emirates Spying On It's BlackBerry Users?!

By Bla1ze on 15 Jul 2009 09:03 am EDT
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Etisalat Network In The United Arab Emirates Spying On It's BlackBerry Users?!?

We all know how secure the BlackBerry platform is as a whole when it comes to those devices being deployed in an enterprise atmosphere. It has been proven time and time again that BlackBerry is the device of security that companies need to handle their sensitive information while mobile. However, a recent update on Etisalat network in the UAE has caused some concerns amongst those affected.

As The Register reports, it seems as though an update to its customers' BlackBerry devices was pushed out via a "WAP Push" message that enabled security breaches on those devices which allowed for such things as remote monitoring of SMS messages as well as email messages.

While the breach may have gone unnoticed for some, users began to complain about an extremely reduced battery life on their devices which was completely out of the norm. From the information gathered, the developer of the downloaded application essentially flooded the network with all the BlackBerry devices sending in information at such a rapid pace the servers could not handle it, nor could the device's battery as it was constantly sending out updates to said server.

What ever happened here is something that will likely never get explained to us all as it seems to have been quickly cleaned up with no official announcement from the carrier or RIM. Is this a cause for concern at this point? I'd argue not really as it's a rather isolated incident but it does beg the question What exactly went on that we all are not aware of?

[ Hat Tips ]

Topics: News & Rumors

Reader comments

Etisalat Network In The United Arab Emirates Spying On It's BlackBerry Users?!

12 Comments

I'm a subscriber to this network, unfortunately for me I ran the 'patch' sent out a day before traveling abroad for a 2 week business trip. When I arrived at my destination, my battery was completely drained and the phone wouldn't switch on even. I've disallowed access for the patch as it can not be deleted which seems to have helped. In the end it looks like I would have to format the phone and reinstall software selectively from my backup file.

I'm a subscriber to this network, unfortunately for me I ran the 'patch' sent out a day before traveling abroad for a 2 week business trip. When I arrived at my destination, my battery was completely drained and the phone wouldn't switch on even. I've disallowed access for the patch as it can not be deleted which seems to have helped. In the end it looks like I would have to format the phone and reinstall software selectively from my backup file.

They are looking for terrorists.

It's believed that Osama Bin Laden is currently in possession of a 9630.

I'd have thought this would have been much more of a featured post than the Google Voice one ?!

We've got a topic running in news&rumors on the Forum with a link to download the malicious update in zip file. Worth a look probably.

It really does beg the question what is going on closer to home.

This should be very much a cause for concern. This follows suite just as the VPL Service Books that RIM and the Carriers constantly push to our device without our concent. They need to give us the option to turn off Pushed content that we don't want. This is a breach of our security and our privacy. NO ONE THAT'S NOT UNDER A COMPANY BES SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH BULLISHT PUSHED CONTENT FROM THE CARRIER OR RIM. Everyone seems to think that a BB is super safe and secure, but the bottom line is that the BB platform is the the EASIEST one to take over and control from an administrative level point. This means that anyone, from the carrier, to RIM, to your company, can and will violate your Blackberry handheld as they see fit. This is a problem in my book and it should be a problem in everyone's book as well. One of the main reasons why I don't like the BB platform... I lose control over what's on it!!!

Given that its the UAE that we are talking, I'm nor surprised at all - they tend to monitor everything from internet sites to phone calls just to make sure that people are not 'corrupted' by Western values... I lived there for 10 years plus and its an open secret...

"Privacy" ? I'm surprised that you think you have such rights in other coutries. You DON'T.

Several countries push or pull data with or without the help of the carriers. Even RIM works with the good guys.

The idea that anyone has truly "private" comms is a farce.

Three basic rules of transmitted messages:
1) Treat your bb as if it was ( and is ) a party line.
2) Never say anything in an email or on the phone that
you wouldn't want the whole world to know.
3) You are using a two way radio and by its nature, can
and will be open to monitoring by ANYONE with the
right equipment and the desire to know what you
are saying or doing.

It may be illegal to listen but the government is exempt
from this rule if needed. I am a Amateur Radio operator
and am able to listen and talk to people around the world
via normal routes but am able to access satellites from my car or my 100 milliwatt handheld. I was able to talk to the space station from my home in Maine with a 100 milliwatt
handheld while sitting on my front doorstep.

My battery got totally drained within a couple of hours.. Had to wipe the whole handset & re-install everything else. Now everything works perfectly..