Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don't be so naive

Don't be so naive

Smartphones have been a while with us, but many people still use them with the innocence of a child. They are not aware that someone could spy their calls, their messages or their online activity.

Not even the encryption system used by most of telecom companies, known as A5/1, is safe. In fact, the U.S. National Security Agency has the means to decode billions of calls and messages sent by citizens every day, according to an agency’s internal document. How many secret services around the world will have also developed this tecnology?



Fortunately, some people are aware of this type of situations. In fact, a group of activists has hit the NSA’s mobile phone records program. Political activist Larry Klayman, along with other plaintiffs, has achieved that a judge questioned the constitutionality of collecting call records held by the agency and has ordered the NSA to stop such activity, as well as destroy the files with plaintiffs’ data.

However, there are even more intrusive techniques to obtain sensitive information. For instance, spyware infecting people’s phones. The perfect example is the MisuSMS botnet’s spyware campaigns that affect Android mobile devices. Once the phone is infected, the malware sends user’s SMS to attackers, who are settle in Korea and China.

Precisely Android has been on the scope of criticism for the version 4.4.2 of its OS. This is because Google has removed the feature that allowed to select the permissions that are granted to each app in its last version. With that measure, it was easier to manage security and privacy on each device, but the Californian company stated that the damage could be greater than its benefit.

In any case, if users are not concerned about safety measures while using their devices, they will be even less when they throw their devices away. In this sense, it is always good to take at least three simple steps before retiring your mobile gadget: activate the factory wipe feature, remove the memory card and, in the case of companies, train your employees on the process to be followed when renewing their phones or tablets.

Thinking about all of this, will users be prepared to make mobile payments safely? Maybe not, but certainly they are willing to do so. At least in Spain, 60% of citizens want to pay for purchases by their mobile devices, according to a survey by the company TECHNOactivity.

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