Today, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Guardian Project have launched a new Android application named Haven that will transform a phone into a mini-surveillance kit that can be used to record nearby surroundings in case of intrusions.
Users can install the Haven app on their primary or secondary phone, and the app will work by tapping into the phone's sensors and watching the nearby surroundings for any changes in environmental data.
For example, it will use the camera to detect motion and capture pictures, the accelerometer to detect when the phone is moved, the microphone to detect noise, and so on.
Haven can log this information on the phone, or send it as a notification to another phone via SMS or Signal DM or to a remote website, even when hosted on the Dark Web.
"Application’s main view allows the user to set which sensors to use and the corresponding level of sensitivity," Haven developers explain. "A security code must be provided, needed to disable monitoring."
Snowden, who is the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and the rest of the development team created the app
for use in case of "evil maid" attacks, a term used to describe persons with physical access to a device.
Users can utilize Haven in various ways. They can leave a phone running Haven in their hotel room while they're away, and get notifications if someone enters the room on another phone.
They can also leave the Haven phone on top of a laptop or PC, and see if anyone sits in front of the PC or tries to move the phone to access the laptop (and the sensitive data contained within).
They can install a Haven phone inside safes and see if someone else accesses its content while away, or they can leave phones inside baby rooms to detect when children wake up.
While developers created the Haven app for activists, dissidents, and to help journalists, all good things in life are abused.
Unfortunately, due to its ability to record nearby sound and take pictures when detecting movement, the Haven app can also be used as a secret surveillance kit, allowing miscreants to record off-the-record conversations, spouses, children, and others. In other words, the app can double as spyware, albeit this is not the reason the two organizations developed the app in the first place.
If Haven has piqued anyone's interest, users can grab it from the official Google Play Store, and they can also review or tweak its code from GitHub. More information is available via the app's homepage.