Apple chief Tim Cook has made a thinly veiled attack on Facebook and Google for “gobbling up” users’ personal data.
In a speech, he said people should not have to “make trade-offs between privacy and security”.
While not naming Facebook and Google explicitly, he attacked companies that “built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency”.
Rights activists Privacy International told the BBC it had some scepticism about Mr Cook’s comments.
“It is encouraging to see Apple making the claim that they collect less information on us than their competitors,” Privacy International’s technologist Dr Richard Tynan said.
“However, we have yet to see verifiable evidence of the implementation of these claims with regard to their hardware, firmware, software or online services.
“It is crucial that our devices do not betray us.”
Canada and its spying partners exploited weaknesses in one of the world’s most popular mobile browsers and planned to hack into smartphones via links to Google and Samsung app stores, a top secret document obtained by CBC News shows.
The 2012 document shows that the surveillance agencies exploited the weaknesses in certain mobile apps in pursuit of their national security interests, but it appears they didn’t alert the companies or the public to these weaknesses. That potentially put millions of users in danger of their data being accessed by other governments’ agencies, hackers or criminals.
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.
To achieve our goal of a comprehensive, privacy- and security-focused communications solution, Guardian is driven both by internal development and the open-source community at large. In cases where a viable, vetted, and usable product already fills the communications needs of our target audience, we will recommend apps that work.
It was only a matter of time before drones started monitoring signals from mobile devices.
Since early February, several small drones flying around the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles have been determining mobile devices’ locations from Wi-Fi and cellular transmission signals.