The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Boycott Etisalat - in the UAE and everywhere else

Till they apologize and guarantee they will never do anything like this again, at least: / Middle East / Politics & Society - BlackBerry rogue software leaves sour taste:

A bungled attempt by the United Arab Emirates’ largest telecommunications operator to install surveillance software into subscribers’ BlackBerrys has infuriated customers in the rich Gulf state, and raised global concerns over the security of smart phones.

Etisalat in late June told its 145,000 BlackBerry customers to ‘upgrade’ the software on their devices by downloading a program or ‘patch’ that Etisalat claimed would improve performance, but users said it only drained the battery of the smart phones, prompting tech-savvy subscribers to investigate further.

What they discovered was that the instead of improving performance, the software ‘patch’ – which included a mysterious file labelled ‘Interceptor’ – was actually spyware designed to let Etisalat capture, read and store targeted customers’ e-mails.

The claim was later confirmed by Research in Motion, the Canada-based maker of the BlackBerry, which sent out a warning to subscribers in the UAE with instructions on how to remove the rogue software."

For now they are stupidly denying it. And I'd love an initiative to reveal what all Middle Eastern telecoms are doing to help governments eavesdrop (or an easy way to disable that.) MobiNil and Vodafone in Egypt, for instance, provide access to their network servers to state security.