13. Carrier IQ
The year 2011 closed out with another privacy-oriented brouhaha, this time surrounding Carrier IQ, which sells analytics software for mobile devices. The software is used in an estimated 142 million smartphones. A systems analyst/amateur security researcher discovered this software on his smartphone, and found that it was capturing battery life, connections, text messages, emails and other actions. A slew of accusations followed, with Carrier IQ and its carrier customers being taken to task for allegedly keylogging, spying and tracking. But more detailed analysis by other professional security researchers found that the systems analyst who originally raised the issue was confusing Carrier IQ's actions with those of debug statements mistakenly left in the Android code by phone maker HTC's programmers. As it turns out, Carrier IQ was simply collecting performance data for optimizing the end users' experience. Nevertheless, the original discovery prompted Sprint and HTC to reportedly no longer include the Carrier IQ software on their devices.
14. GM to sell vehicle data
15. Voicemail hacking
One of the biggest stories of 2011 was the shuttering of News Corps' weekly U.K. publication, News of the World, as the result of widespread hacking of the mobile voicemail accounts of politicians, celebrities, and crime victims in the pursuit of stories by the tabloid publication. Investigations of this illegal behavior are ongoing, but have already led to several high-profile arrests and resignations of News Corps executives. Reporters apparently hacked into the voicemail accounts by using the default PINs that shipped with the phones.
(Thanks to the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the online privacy service provider TRUSTe for helping with this article.)
Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.