Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower who has lived in exile in Russia since 2013, has release a mobile app called Haven. This was a product of collaboration between The Guardian Project and Freedom of Press Foundation.
The app uses sensors of the device that it is installed on, including camera, gyroscope and microphone, to detect any unusual changes in environment and record those. For example, if your phone is located in a silent hotel room, the app will be triggered by somebody entering your room and will start recording immediately. The intention is to always be aware if your personal belongings are being tampered with.
The app sends the recorded information to the secondary device that belongs to the user. All of the information is transmitted via Tor network; therefore all data has multiple levels of encryptions applied to it. The routing protocol of Tor network routes every message through a number of nodes in such a way that each node only knows the previous node that the message went through and the next node in line. The original source and the final destination of the message are hidden away by encryption. This prevents anybody with network-sniffing capabilities to detect what information is being transmitted and where does it get transmitted to.
However, if you would plan to use Haven app, some degree of caution would probably needs to be exercised. Genuine altruism is very rare; therefore the agenda behind the app could be different from what Edward Snowden said. His original motives for revealing large amounts of highly sensitive information about NSA surveillance programs are questionable. Although some of the surveillance programs were indeed something that NSA shouldn't have done and the public shouldn't have tolerated, he also revealed large quantities of information on surveillance projects that don't affect ordinary US citizens and that are genuinely performed in the interest of national security. Moreover, he has done it in such a way that has placed many members of security staff in danger.
The question remains why a person, who repeatedly spoke about not wanting to turn US into a dystopian society from 1984, has chosen to claim asylum in Russia, a country well-known for its internet censorship and heavy custodial sentences for critics of the government. Also, there is a question of why a country where the government actively attempts to unmask Tor users and increase internet surveillance has not only willingly given Edward Snowden an asylum, but also allowed him to continue working on surveillance-evading technologies. Therefore, I wouldn't rely on the fact that the app is safe due to being an open-source. If I would really feel that I was in high-risk environment where such app would be useful, I would either examine the code myself or get a trusted third party to do so before I would use the app. Otherwise, the app might do just the opposite of what it's description says, relying on the fact that a significant amount of its users will assume that someone else has already examined its code and gave it a green light in terms of safety.
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Published by Mobile Tech Tracker
Posted on 29 Dec 2017