Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I know what you did five minutes ago

Friend and fellow mobilist, Terence Eden, has just published a really interesting post ‘The Future is Now but not Everyone Knows it’. Well worth a read. This resonates with me on the privacy issues front in particular. I’ve been sort of aware of security issues around identity fraud, having your credit card cloned, about having your site or email hacked into. But it has never really felt real. It has always felt to me that these things happen to someone else, they’re things you read about on the news or memes that travel on twitter. And I sincerely hope none of them happen to me. But I fear that some of this stuff could become as commonplace as shoplifting or pickpocketing.

The reality is, that you usually give yourself a split second to decide on the convenience of clicking on something right now to get to a site or buy something or not and so we usually click. Who reads privacy policies, terms and conditions and what not? How do you verify a site is real and not fake? Convenience or immediate gratification usually wins out.

I’m afraid I don’t have the answers when it comes to data privacy and online security issues. But I do know that the mobile environment is dealing with similar issues around malware that the desktop world experienced ten years ago. Growth of mobile malware is huge and ‘it is now fully functional and mature’ to quote this article. There are holes in our smartphone operating systems that means smart, and probably not so smart, hackers can worm their way in to take control over a device or install a key-logging operation and from there, everything can unravel pretty quickly. The holes are often to do with the access rights that we actively give to app developers and also down to the access rights the handset manufacturer and network operator sets when they add on the 70 or so apps we have no control over to make our devices work.

And even if you don’t succumb to mobile malware, if you’re not careful with how you manage passwords, pin codes and privacy settings, you can still be vulnerable, as this wonderful video by Tom Scott demonstrates.


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