Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are our cell phones actually secure ?

When BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates received a text message from their service provider on July 8 instructing them to install an upgrade on their handsets, they had no idea the application also contained software that, according to BlackBerry's maker, would enable third parties to peek at private information on their phones.

The UAE incident unleashed a wave of outrage among BlackBerry users in the country as well as brought to light what experts say is growing concern that as mobile phones become more sophisticated, they are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to technological espionage.

The virus allows outsiders to send text messages, access web sites, make phone calls as well as turn on a device's camera and microphone, he explained.

This is the state of our Number One Communications device - the mobile handset. While we were busy with our lives the mobile phone had completed it's transition from a humble telephone to a full-fledged computer. And with that the amount of data it contained - especially sensitive personal data - grew sky high. And keeping a phone secure isn't as easy as that for a computer. Which is not to say that it's anywhere near easy on a computer.

Of course there are a number of ways in which we believe we can keep our gadgets secure, the easiest of these being password protection. But practically it's useless. These softwares might protect your data from accidental exposure like when your kids browse your phone. But when you're in the crosshairs of a hacker this just isn't enough. And in the case of the Blackberry users, obviously, all the security built into their phones weren't enough to protect them.

Bottom Line: If there is a text message arriving from an anonymous number saying you just won two weeks free holidays in the Bahamas, you should react to this in the same what you would react to this if you got it in an email. Delete it.

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