Proctele apps in the App Store

Proctele apps in the App Store
Click the picture to see Proctele apps in Apple's App Store

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What if your Smartphone is a spy?

The Smartphone and its offspring the Pad are the most popular electronic devices of this century. We all love these devices and there are many proofs of that. Smartphones and their accessories are hot items among traders, like stereos were in the 1970's, like PC's were in the 80's, like cell-phones were in the 90's.

We love these devices; they're always with us, not just in the same room, but usually in our pocket or our hands. Eye-to-screen contact takes place several times an hour, often less during working-hours, but all the more often before or after work or in the week-end. When the Smartphone gets a longer rest it's usually because we're sleeping and the Smartphone is charging. Nice device. 

But what if ... if the camera ... or the microphone isn't really turned off when you expect them to be off? 

What if your trusted Smartphone is transmitting all it sees and hears to some person or organization? It doesn't need constant network access to spy, you know, because it can record to memory and transmit its findings whenever possible. What if it can see and hear even after it's been turned off? You see, a device isn't really off until the power supply i.e. the battery has been disconnected, and that never happens. Even if you take out the main battery, there's always some other battery in action to keep at least the clock running. What if the microphone is always on and recording what it hears?

On the other hand, how interesting are we really as objects of spies? Not really interesting I think, and that hopefully goes for most of us. But then again some people are of considerable interest to a lot of people, and governments are interested in some. Celebrities fall into the first group and political opponents of governments into the second.

Considering the above, I think there may be a market for some kind of shields for privacy. They may come in the form of covers that shield the camera and the microphone. Night-boxes or charging-boxes for night-time privacy, which are sound-insulated and electro-magnetically shielded. Another form of shield would be one that feeds the camera and microphone with fake data.

I think Smartphone users don't have to worry quite yet. Looking further into the future though, I think privacy will become a severe issue that has to be dealt with.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Importance of Smartphone Privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently published a letter to Apple's customers concerning the company's policy on smartphone privacy. You can read it here

The document has no news for me and I'm delighted it's mostly a comment on how Apple's privacy policy is being applied to the investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. The letter says Apple is doing its duty to assist the FBI investigating the case, but also that the FBI will not be provided with a key to unlock all iPhone security. There is no such key in existence and it will not be created. That means Apple WILL NOT build in a back-door to its customer's data on iPhones. Many thanks to Tim Cook for making this clear!

Law enforcement authorities should not burden companies with these requests. It is not without risk. Back-doors can be misused and will be misused. Lots of wide-spread software systems contain back-doors. These are not always created by the owner of the system, but by criminals.

There exist back-door-like features that most users will welcome and the most famous may be the Find my iPhone, which can indeed find a lost iPhone, but can also remotely erase all data from a stolen iPhone, under its owners control. The great thing about that feature is that it will in the end make iPhones less desirable for thieves.

American companies may already be suffering from their government's poking its nose into all kinds of electronic devices and services. People are becoming more aware of the possibilities of surveillance and outright data theft. This opens possibilities to companies in other jurisdictions taking market shares. I'm talking about trust, which I've mentioned earlier on this blog. Once trust is lost, rebuilding it is at best a hard struggle, and I think trust is actually never rebuilt. Governments should not ask of its companies to help it combat terrorists, which they could have avoided by properly screening immigrants. Here's hoping more companies show the stamina Apple has.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Grand Gadgets

I'm a gadget-man and I believe I share that interest with most men. This quality is closely related to a fascination for technology and new concepts. Here's a blog about gadgets.

I'll start with this wooden keyboard:

It's not just wooden, it's a wireless Bluetooth wooden keyboard for $190. You can get it in Maple or Walnut if you prefer. I bet you can get it in a localized language version too.

Then there's this speaker that listens in on the electrical signals going to the speaker in your smartphone. When I first saw it I had to think for a while to figure out how it works. Love that! You don't need any communication technology like BlueTooth in the phone for it to work. Here's a picture of it from Parts Express, and don't miss their Youtube demo (see link reference at the bottom).

Selfie-toaster sounds crazy, as if somebody just joined two random words, but in fact it's a product. You buy a certain toaster and the maker will manufacture a heating insert from an image you upload to them. The image can be a picture of yourself, hence the name selfie-toaster. Fantastic idea and here's what it looks like: