Smartphone + Internet - A formidable weapon in this peril age?

the dangers of smartphone + internet in this peril age

It's 2019 and you should be concerned about how valuable your online data and privacy is. You can read my post on the value of online privacy and digital data for further elaboration."As long as your phone is turned on, even with "location permissions" disabled, the radios in the phone that connect it to all the nice things you like are screaming into the air, reporting your presence to nearby cell towers, which then create records that are kept forever." - Edward Snowden in one of his recent tweets. There’s no point in locking the doors to our houses or closing the curtains to our windows - the average person today stands, at every stage of life, naked before the eyes of corporations and governments.

These entities have a permanent record of us. How? Every message, voice note or media file you send is kept. Maybe that’s fair because you’re responsible for what you send. Here’s the case your privacy is compromised whether you’ve agreed to a two page “terms of service” or not. The internet and smartphone industry form a formidable weapon that can be used to take over the world. In some countries, elections are won and the technology is exploited in so many unpleasant ways. Most of the operating systems running on our smartphones today have major security vulnerabilities contained in amazing features - which can easily be used to hack you.

Who is watching you?

Rewind: The Brits took control over the world 'cos they were advanced in technology than most countries. Their empire grew so strong they colonized countries with little effort. The technology used back then were firearms and war weapons. An empire considered as one of the largest in history of the world. By the 19th century, their population had increased at a dramatic rate. That’s not the case in this digital era. You can literally destroy someone’s life by posting a picture on Facebook, Instagram, class groups (basically using the internet) concealing the identity of the perpetrator to some extent. Worst case, you can even blackmail or take advantage of them. I call it "modern-day colonization".

This post focusses more on Android's vulnerabilities.

iOS and Android Security Vulnerabilities

Android and iOS are the most widely used operating systems for smartphones today. There is a school of thought that the latter has a long list of vulnerabilities. Apple's iOS has its own issues as well, but Apple has a good record when it comes to security - the company has incentives for anyone who could hack them. No system or software is totally safe, there are hackers who can utilized these loopholes. We have seen the emergence of sim swapping attacks to utilize a loophole in the two-factor authentication process. Remember when Twitter's CEO got hacked?  There is no exception when it comes to a data breach or having your privacy compromised.

How hackers can take control over your Android phone via a simple text

The idea behind the use of this quite similar to classical phishing. All they have to do is send you a message which they make you believe it's from a legitimate authority. There is no feature to verify the authenticity of the source because of the Open Mobile Client Provisioning (OMA CP) protocol. This even makes it easy for hackers to exploit this loophole. An OTP (Over-the-Air) message is sent, and when a user accepts, the hacker gains access to the phone. The hacker can handle the information routing process to the phone. This is an inexpensive way of invading someone's privacy hence making it attractive for hackers to exploit this. Another disturbing issue is the fact that anyone can learn and exploit this feature and you can be a victim too. Android-based phones including the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG may have this vulnerability which allows attackers to access your information. The vendors have been informed of these security flaws and Samsung and LG have released patches for the fix.

The point is not to cause anxiety when using smartphones or the internet. Whatever you do (whether good or bad) is the liberty everyone is entitled to. As long as it’s not at the expense of someone, your privacy is a right you must enjoy. Whether you interact with the Internet or not, sophisticated technology and/or devices are used to spy on masses in the name of national security. Not forgetting hackers, you just have to be careful using the underlined platforms as there is no safe house. But there are some practices to improve your privacy;

  •  Use Tor browser rather than Chrome, Firefox or the others.
  •  Disable fingerprinting and tracking in browsers.
  •  Use an adblocker.
  •  Don’t just connect to any Wi-Fi you see around.

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