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[liberationtech] If we want to be anonymous in #azerbaijan we take batteries out of our cellphones

Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb ei8fdb at ei8fdb.org
Mon Jun 18 12:08:34 PDT 2012


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On 18 Jun 2012, at 19:55, Parker Higgins wrote:

> On 6/18/12 11:44 AM, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb wrote:
>> The "still being tracked with no battery in my phone" story sounds 
>> like a hoax to me.
> 
> Yeah, I wouldn't want my answer to be interpreted as providing
> evidence for it. I'm not advocating breaking any laws in this forum,
> but especially not laws of physics.

Some laws were made to.... :)

>> As Eleanor said, if there is no power source attached to
>> telephone, or to whatever secondary tracking device installed in
>> the telephone, then it is not possible to track someone. No power
>> source, no radio frequencies being created, no transmissions of
>> information.
> 
> Right. On a specific device, you could imagine a secondary battery
> powering the tracking device (er, the radio) but it's hard to imagine
> a scenario where that's the easiest way to track somebody.

Absolutely, and again like Eleanor said it would (probably) be a) cheaper b) faster, and c) more efficient to have someone follow in person. People forget social engineering is a very powerful tool. It doesn't need sophisticated technology and lots of money.

> The conversation I had with the security researcher was actually about
> a related question, and that's whether "airplane mode" could be
> trusted as well. Again, I don't want my acknowledging a theoretical
> possibility to be taken as advocating a hoax or anything, but the
> agreement was that SOFTWARE solutions like airplane mode can't really
> be trusted, and some processor components do not have open-source
> software options. Of course, on a current iPhone, there isn't an
> option to remove the battery.

That's a whole different scenario. In this case you are relying on the device maker to control shutting off the power to the radio modules (GPS, GSM, WiFi) to put the device into "airplane mode" (whatever the hell that actually means). Knowing how shoddy some device makers can be, I'd prefer not to leave my security and life in their hands.

Certainly in this case, the device is still powered on, and if there was any rogue software installed which had the intelligence to engage the microphone to record the ambient audio, or to store information on the device to send it once it was reconnected to a data network, this would be trivial to do.

The safest advice is still to remove the battery from the device. If needs be, keep it in a sealed container so there is no possibility of recording ambient audio. (Although I do not know how useful this would even be)

Bernard

- --------------------------------------
Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb

IO91XM / www.ei8fdb.org

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