Carrier IQ 'rootkit' found on iPhone

Carrier IQ, the key-logging software alleged to be spying on millions of Android and BlackBerry users around the world, could also be installed on Apple iPhone handsets.

According to a blog post by iPhone hacker Chpwn, Carrier IQ - labelled a 'rootkit' by Android developer Trevor Eckhart, who discovered the software - is included in versions of Apple's iOS operating system up to and including the latest, iOS 5, the version that runs on Apple's new iPhone 4S handset.

A dig around in the iPhone's file system revealed that Carrier IQ's agent software is present in the iPhone's /usr/bin folder as IQAgent in iOS 3, and as either awd_ice2 or awd_ice3 in iOS 4 or iOS 5.

As Chpwn explains, Carrier IQ appears to be disabled in iOS 5 - and although present, it is unclear whether the software is actually launched in anything other than the smartphone's diagnostic mode. But its discovery on Apple devices will certainly fan the flames of a controversy sparked by Eckhart's demonstration of Carrier IQ's snooping capabilities under the Android OS.

The software present under earlier versions of the operating system does, however, appear to lack some of the capabilities demonstrated by Eckhart in the Android version.

In particular, the iOS version of Carrier IQ appears to have no direct access to the smartphone's user interface, meaning that it is unlikely to be able to carry out the in-depth surveillance - including logging every keystroke a user makes - that is possible on Android devices.

Neither Apple nor Carrier IQ has issued an official response to the latest allegations concerning the software - but you can be sure this controversy is set to rumble on.