Tag Archives: cell phones

Tech Giants Ask Government to Reform Spy Program

9 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Rarely do we see tech giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Yahoo join forces.  That is exactly what has happened today.  In a seething letter, the respective CEO’s of the above companies all sign on to a plea to standardize government intrusions into the digital lives of citizens.  The statement begins:

The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information. . . .We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

Apparently, the risks and costs associated with complying with endless government information requests has taken its toll on these corporations.  The real question for me is where are the cellular phone companies on this issue?  Where are the people on this issue?

This report comes on the very day that the Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana State Police have purchased a piece of equipment that will allow them to monitor cell phones without a warrant.  According to the Indy Star, the Stingray device can be mounted on a police vehicle and can monitor all cellular communications in the area. State police refused to comment on the system. http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2013/12/08/indiana-state-police-tracking-cellphones-but-wont-say-how-or-why/3908333/

The full text of the Tech Giant letter is as follows:

An open letter to Washington

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Aol logo Apple logo Facebook logo Google logo LinkedIn logo Microsoft logo Twitter logo Yahoo! logo

Cell Phone Thefts May Not Be About Phones

21 Oct

by Ken Davidson

It appears that organized rings of criminals are perpetrating armed robberies for cell phones in northwest Indiana. First, we had the 5 Hessville armed robberies which appear to be gang related. At that time, Chief Brian Miller suggested there were similar robberies in East Chicago and Merrillville. Now an armed robbery in Schererville and reports of one in Dyer are causing great concern. According to a report issues by computer security giant Symantec, up to 50% of smart phones are lost or stolen in some major cities. The number is rising rapidly. The real question is why are these thefts on the rise and the answer may be personal information.

While there is a tremendous danger involved in the vicious armed robberies, the thefts may not be about the phones at all. Symantec reports that users are storing more data on their portable devices and are protecting it less. Bank accounts, credit cards, addresses and passwords and other personal information call all be retrieved by the savvy criminal after stealing a cell phone.

“If this was a test, mobile consumers would be failing,” said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec. “While consumers are protecting their computers, there is a general lack of awareness to safeguard their smartphones and tablets. It’s as if they have alarm systems for their homes, but they’re leaving their cars unlocked with the windows wide open.”

Those perpetrating the robberies may not be computer geniuses but a nationwide spike in thefts of electronic devices indicates that there is a thriving market for stolen devices. You can bet the street gangs have gotten into this lucrative market and are selling phones internationally.

Experts advise using security software such as Symantec’s Norton Mobile Security 3.0 The Software allows you to erase your data remotely if your portable device is lost or stolen.

Symantec also suggests additional security tips for a smartphone or tablet:

General Security Principles for PDAs and Smartphones
• PDAs and Smartphones must be password protected, preferably with a strong password (eight digits,
alpha-numeric)
• Devices must not be left unattended (while charging, for instance) – unless secured in a locked device or
room, or with an appropriate alarm6
• The wireless port on PDAs and smartphones must be disabled (to prevent transmission of confidential
data to unauthorized individuals)
• Appropriate anti-malware software must be installed and kept up to date
• Device operating systems must have the latest patches installed (which means keeping in touch with
your supplier’s Web site(s), as automatic updating is not yet a big feature of PDA and smartphone
operating system support)
• Any confidential (including corporate) information stored on a device must be encrypted, perhaps stored
in an encrypted database
• Back up regularly – by synchronizing the device with a linked computer