Android app watches for unwelcome monitoring

Android app watches for unwelcome monitoring

Summary: WhisperMonitor allows Android users to control data flow from their phones and can monitor connection history, as a privacy and security tool

TOPICS: Security

A firewall beta for Android devices has been released to filter outbound data and monitors connections.

WhisperMonitor, which has been developed by security researcher Moxie Marlinspike's WhisperSystems company, monitors network traffic leaving an Android device and asks for instructions to determine filtering rules. The beta was released on Tuesday.

"WhisperMonitor provides a software firewall capable of dynamic egress filtering and real-time connection monitoring, giving you control over where your data is going and what your apps are doing," said the release notes.

The software can be used to foil location-based tracking, Marlinspike told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"WhisperMonitor was developed by WhisperSystems, the company I co-founded and am CTO of," said Marlinspike. "It can be used to stop location-based tracking by Android, among other things. It is designed to give users control over where their data is going and what their apps are doing."

The WhisperMonitor beta is included with the WhisperCore secure Android platform. WhisperCore 0.3 works on Nexus S and Nexus One devices, and provides device-level encryption.

Data collection

Companies, including Apple and Google, have been criticised for collecting location-based data of users.

Advertisers also collect data from some Android apps, researchers found in September 2010. In addition, a number of malicious Android apps have been identified that compromise user ID data.

In March, Google took down more than 50 infected apps from its official app store, the Android Market. One of the infected apps sent sensitive information such as the International Mobile Equipment Identification (IMEI) number.

In the same month, security company Symantec identified a botnet-building Android Trojan that compromised user data.

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Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • There is an alternative firewall program available in the Market, called Droidwall. This works quite well but doesn't have built-in monitoring or encryption. Proper operation also requires 'root' access which causes another security concern.