A Spy in your Pocket

Published: 04th March 2010
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Our computers and cell phones have become literal lifelines for our communication with the world. The cell phone has already evolved into a mini computer with all the bells and whistles. We never leave home without them.

As B2B or B2C Internet Marketers, we run to the store for every tiniest new upgrade. We tell ourselves it is for better client communication, but really, we are kids wanting to improve our toys. Imagine not being able to have the latest ring, email application or video upgrade available. That would be just unimaginable.

Any advancement comes with a price - the price is responsibility. We want to talk to the world, and the world wants to talk with us. But not everyone is playing nice. We have also given the same tools to child molesters and terrorists. Technology comes without morals and integrity.

With every new advancement, brings another advancement that we may not want, the ability to be contacted by anyone - anywhere - at anytime. Advancements bring with them potential risk with our privacy and security. Scary isn't it?

Cell Phone Stalkers: "Family members of two of the three families who have fallen victim to cell phone stalking have spoken out about their nightmare, saying police near their home in Tacoma, Wash., are not able to help them, and they are reaching out to media to help solve the case. The families have received messages from the stalker threatening death upon them and their pets.

Darci Price said they went to the police right away after the phone hijacking began. "They kind of pushed us aside I think a little bit," she said. "So far, I think they can't figure it out. So, we had to come to the media for help to try to solve this. It's been traumatizing and terrorizing for all of our family, our extended family, and my children. It's unbelievable."

This article focuses on Cell Phone Stalkers. The interview on Fox is enough to make parents wake up that a cell phone is an open door to an entire family's life and existence.

How to beat cell phone stalkers - Computerworld

The best cure is prevention. Don't allow strangers to gain access to your phone. Like any other kind of software, snoopware doesn't install itself. The leading methods for installation are physical access installation, where the user installs by clicking on an attachment or link; or via Bluetooth. By preventing potential stalkers from touching your phone, never clicking on e-mail attachments or links from strangers, and turning off Bluetooth autodiscovery, you'll keep snoopware off your phone.

The fact is, snoopware hacks are dangerous only if you're unaware of them. Once you suspect someone is using your cell phone to spy on you, it's trivially easy to stop them.

1. Buy an anti-malware application from vendors like Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, F-Secure, SMobile, MyMobiSafe and others. These products find not just the shadowy, hacker snoopware programs, but the legal ones, too.

2. Turn on passwords for voice mail access. Do you have to enter a password each time you check voice mail? If not, your carrier has enabled the "skip passcode" feature. A stalker spoofing your Caller ID can check your voice mail, too. But by re-enabling a good password, it will be much easier to keep your voice mail private.

3. Downgrade your cell phone. Snoopware works only on the most advanced phones. For nontechnical users like the Kuykendalls, one simple solution is to swap out your high-end phone for a cheaper model that doesn't support Java or Bluetooth and doesn't have a camera. This isn't a good solution for gadget fans, but for families feeling terrorized, this is a cheap, fast and easy way to get control.

4. Switch carriers. There's not much you can do at the handset level to foil a hack of the carrier's Web site. If the company can't shut down the hacker, switch to another carrier.

5. Buy an anonymous prepaid phone. The last-ditch solution (just before going without a cell phone) is to buy a prepaid phone from 7-Eleven or a similar store. This provides not only the benefits of a low-tech cell phone and a new carrier, but greater anonymity.

We all need to take this very seriously. We have opened the door to Pandora's Box for the sake of unlimited access and communication. Let us also be aware of its dangers and protect ourselves as well.

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