NSA Whistleblower Snowden Launches Mobile App For Paranoid People
Famed NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden has just launched Haven, an app for people to transform any Android smartphone into a high-tech security system for detecting intrusions.
Snowden, while currently on the run from the CIA, hiding somewhere in Moscow until 2020, has found enough time to launch his new mobile security app last Friday for the sufficiently paranoid person (e.g. activists, dissidents, journalists, & etc).
“When the lead developer explained the project to his young children, they found another use for it: ‘We’re going to catch Santa!’ ” https://t.co/Beangjk90g
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 23, 2017
Haven is designed to be installed on any Android smartphone, particularly inexpensive and older devices. It operates like a home surveillance system, leveraging on-device sensors to provide surveillance of physical areas. Sensors within the Android phone monitor motion, sound, vibration and light, watching for unwanted guests to notify a user. Combining Haven with an array of sensors in any smartphone, coupled with the most secure communications technologies like Signal and Tor, the app is providing Snowden and other activists around the world with a mobile security system.
The app was developed by Freedom of the Press Foundation, Guardian Project, and Snowden. According to the Guardian Project, the app’s prototype funding was provided by FoPF, and donations to support continuing work can be contributed through their site: https://freedom.press/donate-support-haven-open-source-project/.
According to the Guardian Project, this is how the app works,
Haven only saves images and sound when triggered by motion or volume, and stores everything locally on the device. You can position the device’s camera to capture visible motion, or set your phone somewhere discreet to just listen for noises. Get secure notifications of intrusion events instantly and access the logs remotely or anytime later.
On-device sensors monitor for disturbance, and then logs the data:
- Accelerometer: phone’s motion and vibration
- Camera: motion in the phone’s visible surroundings from front or back camera
- Microphone: noises in the environment
- Light: change in light from ambient light sensor
- Power: detect device being unplugged or power loss
Further, the group explains why Haven is well suited for Android devices and does make the claim, a version for the iPhone is on the horizon.
While we hope to support a version of Haven that runs directly on iOS devices in the future, iPhone users can still benefit from Haven today. You can purchase an inexpensive Android phone for less than $100, and use that as your “Haven Device”, that you leave behind, while you keep your iPhone with you. If you run Signal on your iPhone, you can configure Haven on Android to send encrypted notifications, with photos and audio, directly to you. If you enable the “Tor Onion Service” feature in Haven (requires installing “Orbot” app as well), you can remotely access all Haven log data from your iPhone, using the Onion Browser app. So, no, iPhone users we didn’t forget about you, and hope you’ll pick up an Android burner today for a few bucks!
If one of the sensors was triggered, a notification would be sent to one of the following platforms:
- SMS: a message is sent to the number specified when monitoring started
- Signal: if configured, can send end-to-end encryption notifications via Signal
My partner has been testing Haven for a few months with a spare phone. Every time you open the closet, it sends a picture by Signal. In addition to impressive intrusion detection capabilities, you can also use it to send helpful reminders! ? https://t.co/FHi1bjFsLP pic.twitter.com/IS58HzDVha
— lex.txt (@lex_is) December 22, 2017
As for Snowden, he remains in an asylum somewhere in Moscow until 2020 when his residence permit expires.
With the launch of Haven, it seems as Snowden is attempting to change the calculus of risk for when US authorities come hunting for him once more.
If all else fails, Snowden might have just invented a baby monitor for the broke millennial.