Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

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Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby aardvark_admin » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:43 am

This column is archived at: http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2014/0619.shtml

Are you concerned at the prospect of your smartphone coming pre-loaded with malware or spyware?

Is there any way to ensure that your phone is "clean" when you walk out of the store with it still in its lovely cardboard box?

Could the discovery of malware/spyware in the N9500 phone be just the tip of a very large iceberg which may point to other devices being delivered with built-in spyware or malware?

How do you know your router is safe? Your tablet? Laptop? Desktop PC?

Given that the Chinese make so much of the componentry and subsystems that these devices are built from, is their any way to be sure they're clean?
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby hagfish » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:19 am

My pet theory is that - far from being horrified - many people *like* the thought that they/we are being monitored. In this Godless age, it may be comforting to know that there is some all-seeing eye keeping tabs on us. As long as your life goals (work/consume/die) align with those of the Watchers, you've nothing to fear, and all will be well.
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby aardvark_admin » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:22 am

Unfortunately, my life goal isn't to make sure that our political overlords are enrichened to the maximum extent and that their power-base is extended to whatever magnitude they might like.

I guess that means I'm in trouble then :-)
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby Stevesub » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:47 am

Bruce, you are only in real trouble only when you upgrade to a smart phone.

Also remember the stink worldwide a couple of years ago when Chinese Telecom products manufacturer Huawei was banned from the USA and to some extent Australia because of the threat of skyware, trapdoors, etc hidden in the equipment. Don't worry, most of the new equipment installed in NZ over the last few years for your phone and internet by Telecom, Vodafone and 2 Degrees is from Huawei.

For my mobile devices, I tend to trust the major manufacturers for my phones, Nokia in the past, now Samsung with a fling at Apple for a year or so. Their phones come loaded with all sorts of crapware, malware, whatever so who knows what is being monitored and by whom. Don't care as I don't have a lot to hide. I also know that my banking has not been compromised - yet - after doing banking on phones for a couple of years now. If people are bored, they can read my emails and browsing habits, then they would be even more bored after all that.

As for buying a cheaper Chinese phone, not really interested.

Yes, I am worried about the 1984 syndrome but more worried for my kids rather than myself.
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby kaxnurco » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:05 am

Phones that have unlocked boot loaders and enable installing alternate ROMs help with this. You can install any ROM from a trusted party or cook your own from different parts. This post from the Tor project explains some of the things you can do to harden your phone. As that post explains, with a rooted Android phone you can run Tor transparently so that apps use that for encrypted sending of data by default. Similar is possible on Firefox OS. If you don't mind older hardware you can run replicant which attempts to use hardware with open source drivers as much as possible. This reduces the chance of embedded spyware. The main issue then becomes the baseband modem which runs a closed source OS and can be running anything.
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby enerider » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:24 am

Baseband mobile is tapped anyway - there are built-in backdoors for law enforcement eavesdropping. SIM cards are essentially Java cards - they are a (slow) computer in their own right.

But that doesn't stop people doing things like http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/17 ... _hipsters/ :)
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby Stevesub » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:49 am

Not only baseband mobile, all communications, mobile, phone and net. The company I work for sells "Lawful Interception" equipment for all communications services - not one of my products though. I was at one of my customers a couple of weeks ago (a smaller Telco company in NZ) and they had just received the letter from a government department telling them that they had to install such devices for the departments use. The company was not happy.
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Re: Myphone, iPhone, SpyPhone?

Postby enerider » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:57 am

Stevesub wrote:...I was at one of my customers a couple of weeks ago (a smaller Telco company in NZ) and they had just received the letter from a government department telling them that they had to install such devices for the departments use. The company was not happy.


TICSA in action! :mrgreen:

Hi GCSB! How's the coffee?
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