“Realizing that the facebook app uploaded the contents of my sim card to facebook servers was a groundbreaking realization for me.” – Harlo Holmes
S01E04 : The spy in my pocket
Who you are, where you go, what you do. Your phone is spying on you. Who is it telling?
Apple CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his disdain for online services that ask you to trade highly personal data for convenience — a trade that describes most big advertising-supported technology companies. But last night, in some of his strongest comments to date, Cook said the erosion of privacy represents a threat to the American way of life. Cook spoke at a dinner in Washington, DC, hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which honored him as a “champion of freedom” for his leadership at Apple.
“Our privacy is being attacked on multiple fronts,” Cook said in a speech that he delivered remotely, according to EPIC. “I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
I won’t lie to you: it’s difficult to protect your smartphones. But after a few weeks of following trackers, I have learned a few things.
Check your smartphone
1 – Some of your apps need your personal data to function. Others don’t. To sort through them, I installed Clueful by Bitdefender. It’s an app that tells you what information is used by each of your apps. It warns you if some apps use your information without your knowledge. You are being tracked but at least you know it.
2 – Before downloading anything, make sure you actually need it. Get rid of the apps that you no longer use. Close apps running in the background. In iOS, just double-click the Home button at the bottom of the screen. In Android, you can do it by opening “Applications” under “Settings”.
3 – If you like, you can also disable geolocation services. In Android, just go to “Settings”, then “Geolocation” and disable. At the bottom of the same page, you can click on “Google Location History” to disable this function. On the iPhone, go to “Settings” then “Privacy” then “Location Services”.
4 – Ad tracking can be limited. If you use Android, you will find “Ads” under “Google Settings”. You can disable “Interest-based advertising” and re-initialise “Advertising ID”, the equivalent of a computer cookie. This method is not fool-proof, since an application that had access to your UDID will recognise your phone, but not all apps do it. The process is the same for the iPhone. You will find “Ads” in “Settings” under “Advertising”.
5 – To navigate completely anonymously, you can download Tor or Orbot, developed by the Guardian Project. These services are effective but require patience, as uploading pages is slow. The Duckduckgo.com search engine promises “not to spy on you” and does not store user’s personal data.
6 – Use “Off The Record (OTR)” messaging apps. These apps don’t store any messages on any servers, so there’s nothing to snoop on. ChatSecure is a popular option.
7 – Do not connect to free Wi-Fi. If you really must use free Wi-Fi, do not access your personal accounts (email, bank account, social networks, etc.) Otherwise, install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app which enables you to connect to the Internet securely.
8 – If you want to take it further, do not hesitate to stay informed on the Guardian Project website, which has developed tools that make it possible to make images anonymous, encrypt communications, etc. The new Courier tool makes it possible to access an uncensored Internet. With the “PANIC” button, you can uninstall it quickly. It is available in several languages, including English, Chinese, Tibetan, Ukrainian and Russian.
The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.
The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.
Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?
In the face of widespread Internet surveillance, we need a secure and practical means of talking to each other from our phones and computers. Many companies offer “secure messaging” products—but are these systems actually secure? We decided to find out, in the first phase of a new EFF Campaign for Secure & Usable Crypto.
Today, in a period characterized by financialization and globalization, where “information” is king, the idea of any commodity defining an era might seem quaint. But commodities are no less important today, and people’s relationships to them remain central to understanding society. If the automobile was fundamental to grasping the last century, the smartphone is the defining commodity of our era.