Edward “whistelblower” Snowden, currently in exile in Russia has just released a privacy protection app that turns your aging Android smartphone into a spy tool. The app is called Haven : Keep Watch and is still in beta.
The purpose behind the app is to give you a “way to protect your personal space and possessions” without compromising on privacy. The app essentially leverages all the sensors in your device (camera, accelerometer, microphone, etc.) to inform you of any intruders entering your personal space. This personal space could be your hotel room or a bedroom or even a safe or desk drawer.
The cameras can be used to detect motion, capture images and video, etc. All of this can be sent directly to a device of your choice. The mic can be used to detect sudden noises and it can, in turn, be used to trigger the camera to capture the source of the noise. The same applies to the ambient light sensor, which can detect, say, the lights being turned on and off or a flashlight passing over the phone. Even the accelerometer can be repurposed as a vibration sensor for detecting any unexpected movement. In fact, anything can be used as a trigger, even the air pressure sensor found in some phones. It can even be triggered when the phone is plugged in or power is turned on and off.The app is designed to prevent the so-called “Evil Maid” attack that targets unattended computers. This could be in a hotel room, an office space or even your bedroom. This “evil maid” might infect your PC with spyware, rifle through your files and more. The app will apparently give journalists, activists and the paranoid a cheap tool for keeping watch.
Unlike a regular security camera like a Nest Cam, it seems that Haven communicates directly with a device of your choosing. Better yet, you can use Signal (a secure messaging service) and Tor (a secure form of internet) to send the data only to you in a secure fashion. Other services like WhatsApp and Google Drive can also be used, if you so desire.
The device also keeps an on-device log of all events.
The entire project is available on GitHub and is open-source. Anyone can examine the code and modify it to their liking.
The app is the result of a collaboration between The Guardian Project — a project that aims creates secure apps, services and devices for secure communications — and the Freedom of the Press Foundation — which protects and defends “adversarial journalism. Snowden is the president of the latter.
Initial reports suggest that the app is hypersensitive with Wired reporting that the app triggered “hundreds of alerts” when the phone was placed on a PC with a running fan. Clearly, there’s a good reason why the app is still in beta.