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Blackberry SMS-tapping Authorized by Network Provider

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EtisalatDUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Communications provider Etisalat has been accused by Blackberry users in the UAE of illegally spying on their wireless devices.

The company urged users to download what was said to be an update to improve networking capability. The “upgrade” was actually a hidden software installation that allowed for SMS messages to be found and sent to Etisalat’s own servers. Research in Motion has already stated that the update and software wasn’t RIM-authorized and shouldn’t have been used.

The carrier urged the upgrade under the impression that it was supposed to improve crossover from 2G to a 3G network. According to RIM, the fake update had no benefits whatsoever, and is now being withdrawn. There are tools being made available online to remove the unethical software, and fix all affected Blackberrys.

Users probably would not have found it out, if Etisalat had installed the software correctly. The upgrade sent incoming messages of any sort to Etisalat’s servers, on a constant basis. This did two things: it overloaded the company’s own servers, and it caused significant battery drain on the devices being spied upon. Reports came in to RIM when the battery life was being depleted immediately after installing the upgrade. They are also in plans for a meeting with Etisalat to determine what exactly happened.

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By , RIM-affairs Correspondent on Jul 27th, 2009 GMT +2


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