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  1. #1
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    Mobile privacy: lots of Big Brothers, little clarity




    TOP STORY

    Mobile privacy: lots of Big Brothers, little clarity


    By Yardena Arar

    What do you call software that collects and sends information about you to its developers, advertisers, and others? On a desktop, we're likely to name it spyware.


    But on a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device we call it an app — never realizing that it might be operating much like spyware.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/top-story/mobile-privacy-lots-of-big-brothers-little-clarity/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    As far as I am concerned, anything collecting information from a device without informed consent is spyware.

    It seems that things we accept in the digital world, such as cookies, apps that track etc. we would call in the police for in the ‘real’ world. For example, how many of us would be happy with a shop assistant following us around a shopping centre taking notes of our purchases at other stores? How many would be happy on challenging such behaviour with a ‘we don’t identify you. The information we collect is anonymous’ explanation?

    We do of course have to balance this with free services paid for by targeted advertising. But I don’t see where the free services are on a smart ‘phone.

    Finally, how does this data collection fit with Data Protection legislation? Have these developers told the Information Commissioner what they are collecting and what it will be used for? Do they need to?

    I don’t have a smart ‘phone. I don’t see me getting one any time soon!

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    I would like to see more information regarding BlackBerry OS in articles such as this. Although they are decreasing in popularity compared to the onslaught of Android, WP, and iPhone, there are still many of us who use BlackBerry phones as our conduit to the world.

  4. #4
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    The question I'm facing now is, when does all this password-generating, password-maintaining, anti-phishing, etc. etc. etc. paranoia start interfering with productivity? In my case I'm afraid it already has. Between maintaing lists of strong passwords in safe databases, watching out for scum email, watching for phishing sites, and generally keeping my devices in working condition, the time I have left to get my own work done has plunged precipitously, forcing me to take some rather drastic measures.

    I now absolutely refuse to use Facebook, twitter or any other social network; I make sure that no apps which can access my financial information reside on my phones; if I have to pay for anything online I use virtual credit cards and link them with throw-away email addresses.

    I use cash for any purchases at b&m stores (I enjoyed the expression on a clerk's face when I told him I wanted to pay for a tablet with cash, too bad I didn't have a camera). I keep location services off for the most part, and use an app to toggle wifi off on my desktop computer whenever the screen locks, and accept only emails from people I know -- and I still don't have enough time to get my work done by the end of the day!!

    I am seriously considering turning Luddite, throwing out my smart phones in favor of a dumb one (I still have one that doesn't even have web access), and going back to dial-up for security rather than risk anything with an always-on connection. Oh, and I take notes using a fountain pen and writing pad.

    Anyone else?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by korollyn View Post
    I would like to see more information regarding BlackBerry OS in articles such as this. Although they are decreasing in popularity compared to the onslaught of Android, WP, and iPhone, there are still many of us who use BlackBerry phones as our conduit to the world.
    Indeed and the same for Nokia Ovi Apps. They remain the biggest smartphone manufacturer, albeit much reduced market share compared with 2 years ago. I expect better from Windows Secrets!

  6. #6
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    I think balance should be call for in there. I use Facebook mostly for keeping in contact with old friends. I do all my personal data in there. Or at least, I obfuscate my data. Answer the least amt of info I can get away with. And I deliberately harden myself against advertising on sites like Google. Remember that you get what you pay for. There is no such thing as "free" service. I have two gmail accounts, one for setting looking at my igoogle homepage and one gmail for sending and receiving email. And even then, I use it in imap mode so I don't have see the ad's. I own my domain and host my email server. While this is not hack proof; it does bring the bar high enough so I don't have to worry much about spam. If you worry about data corrected on your smart phone. You can always turn it off unless you have to use it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbreyes View Post

    I am seriously considering turning Luddite, throwing out my smart phones in favor of a dumb one (I still have one that doesn't even have web access), and going back to dial-up for security rather than risk anything with an always-on connection. Oh, and I take notes using a fountain pen and writing pad.

    Anyone else?
    I tried that a year or two ago. I got really fed up with the constant awarenesss and additional work just to maintain things. I especially was worrid about smartphone security and was sure then that already there were exploits and yet no one was talking about them. On several security vendor forums I discussed these issues openly and others thought I was talking about a non-issue. Call me paranoid, but I did actually install Kaspersky Mobile and it was great apart from the fact that my old HTC smartphone was very slow.

    So one day I just packed the smartphone away and got from a friend an old Ericsson T28. Superb phone. I liked it so much I went on Ebay and bought a slightly more capable T29 which can be used globally.

    Other than talking, texting, and some very basic WAP browsing which I never did, they are superb basic phones.

    Well, after 6 months I began to get tempted again, and eventually and recently I bought myself a very nice Nokia C7 with F secure pre-loaded and trying to figure out which apps are safe or not. I somewhat trust the Nokia original manufacturer apps, and I guess well know weather forecast and news sites, but the others I stay away from. I remain wary, but I lead a fairly mobile life and I prefer to take some risk to give me mobility....but I am keeping a watchful exe on things, and not keeping financial data on the phone for sure.

  8. #8
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    Hello -

    This is how I defend our computers and smartphones.

    Each laptop protection has:

    - windows firewall ON
    - windows security essentials
    - avast anti virus
    - zone alarm
    - phishing turned ON
    - advanced system care 3 ran on a bi-weekly basis for registry cleaning, junk files, temp files, cookies, etc.

    Our smartphones:
    - Currently run a daily AVG virus scan. When error(s) pop up, which they do, I can immediately clean

    I take electronic privacy very seriously, so anything else you can recommend for additional protection is greatly appreciated, as no one person knows everything !


    Thank you -

    Sterling Wulff
    25 year IT Professional
    --
    Be an American - DEFEND our Constitution !

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbreyes View Post

    Oh, and I take notes using a fountain pen and writing pad.

    Anyone else?
    I use pencil and paper myself, actually.
    Well, I DO use those new-fangled Post-It© things, though. I stick them on the back of my Droid.

    Also, I have long said that my computer is like a cat - on the rare times when it is awake, it spends all its time cleaning itself.


    R
    Grins,

    Rob M
    "Running" Windows since 1986

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob M View Post
    I use pencil and paper myself, actually.
    Well, I DO use those new-fangled Post-It© things, though. I stick them on the back of my Droid.

    Also, I have long said that my computer is like a cat - on the rare times when it is awake, it spends all its time cleaning itself.


    R
    Did you folks know that each time you write with a pen or pencil, it leaves a readable impression on several sheets of paper beneath it? Better take the Post-Its off the pad before writing on them, and only write on a metal or hard plastic clipboard which you will wash between notes.

    With products like ClickNClean, CCleaner, Glary Utilities and other one-click system cleaners, you really don't need to spend any appreciable amount of extra time cleaning up your tracks. It can be almost completely automatic every time a browser is closed and every time an account logs off.

    Updating software can also be made much quicker and easier with Secunia PSI and SUMo-Lite (No-RK Version, from KC Softwares).

    The two things which do take a lot of time are full system file scans for malware and full system image backups before letting Microsoft Updates do its monthly "Magick".
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2011-05-27 at 13:02.
    -- Bob Primak --

  11. #11
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    Electronic Privacy

    True that !
    All work and do a good job of cleaning. I like CCleaner and Advance System Care 3 alot.
    Even though the article was regarding how you protect you electronic privacy, having active background utilities and manual regular executed utilities to clean up your gadgets from time to time, you can never go wrong with it. It definitely takes a multi pronged approach with regular maintenance to keep your stuff as iron clad as possible.
    Sounds like you're doing good stuff too. Keep up on the good work !


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Did you folks know that each time you write with a pen or pencil, it leaves a readable impression on several sheets of paper beneath it? Better take the Post-Its off the pad before writing on them, and only write on a metal or hard plastic clipboard which you will wash between notes.

    With products like ClickNClean, CCleaner, Glary Utilities and other one-click system cleaners, you really don't need to spend any appreciable amount of extra time cleaning up your tracks. It can be almost completely automatic every time a browser is closed and every time an account logs off.

    Updating software can also be made much quicker and easier with Secunia PSI and SUMo-Lite (No-RK Version, from KC Softwares).

    The two things which do take a lot of time are full system file scans for malware and full system image backups before letting Microsoft Updates do its monthly "Magick".

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