Etisalat installing spyware as BlackBerry update: accuses RIM

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Research In Motion (RIM) the producer of Blackberry smart phones has accused Etisalat of installing spyware, to intercept communications of its subscribers, disguised as patch updates.

An update etisalat termed as a “performance enhancing patch” that was issued earlier this month led to excessive battery drainage in BlackBerry phones, which experts attributed to a communications interception software pushed on to subscribers’ devices by the operator.

In an eight page “customer update”, the Canada based company rejected etisalat’s assertion that the update was intended to enhance performance on the BlackBerry network.

“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 unauthorized 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 authorized upgrade,” it said.

In a statement issued last week Etisalat said that the update was intended to facililitate 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”.

Etisalat has 145,000 BlackBerry subscribers. It has not commented on RIM’s statement.


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