Given the recent reports regarding Carrier IQ’s dreaded rootkit I went looking for info on whether the Device Health Application found running with almost all permissions on my Motorola Atrix 2 was another incarnation of it. Lo and behold, it is. Long story short, here are the steps I took to remove it using the excellent Titanium Backup.
Please note that you will be meddling with Android’s internal services, so you may end up bricking your phone: follow these instructions at your own risk.
First of all, you need to root your Atrix 2. I followed this guide and in under 5 minutes I had gained root on the device. Then you need to install Titanium Backup. Please read all the instructions before proceeding.
To see the rootkit running do the following:
1.- Click on the menu soft button, the main menu will appear:
2.- Click on Settings, you will enter the phone’s configuration screen:
3.- Click on Applications:
4.- Click on Manage Applications:
5.- Click on All:
6.- Scroll down until you find Device Health Application and click on it:
7.- Note that if you try to force stop the service it will keep running, ignoring your requests:
8.- Scroll down to see the permissions it has. Scary isn’t it?:
Ok, so let’s remove it from my handset:
9.- Open Titanium Backup, click on Backup/Restore and scroll down until you find the Device Health Application:
10.- Click on the application. BACK IT UP FIRST!!! We don’t know if we will need to roll back the changes later. After you’ve backed it up click on Un-install!:
11.- Note the warning (and also the name of the package, did you have any doubts you were removing the correct one?), you are removing a system application:
12.- Now your device will hang up. The Device Health Application has crashed, and the android system will notify you every millisecond. Just remove the battery and turn the device on again:
13.- You are done. After the phone starts back up you can go into Settings -> Applications -> Manager Applications -> All again, and there’s no sign of the Device Health Application:
Now you can continue to send those super secret SMS messages to your mom on how you prefer the lasagna over the ravioli for dinner without anyone snooping.