Feel More Secure
Your phone may be amazingly smart, but it's probably pretty dumb when it comes to security
issues. Its memory contains extensive personal data
including email addresses, photos, financial
information, and other private details, so there's a lot
in there that appeals to hackers, phishers, and other
vermin. Even though a range of security apps are
available, various sources have reported that up to
80 percent of smartphone users have installed no
malware protection at all. If you are among them, it is
highly advisable that you take steps to foil would-be
attackers. The FCC (Federal Communications
Commission) actually offers a free smartphone
security checker at
www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security which allows you to select your operating
system and follow 10 customized steps to protect
your mobile device.
If you want to be really safe (or are too lazy to implement security measures), maybe you should pick your next
phone from among a few models that have been designed from the ground up to ensure your privacy and security.
One of the latest and securest is the Boeing Black, but unless you are among "government agencies and companies
engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security," you are
persona non grata. S.O.L., we might say. Never fear, though, because a similar device is the result of a joint venture
involving Silent Circle ( www.silentcircle.com) and Geeksphone ( www.geeksphone.com). The company's
Blackphone is billed as "the world's first smartphone placing privacy and control directly in the hands of its users."
The phone — which runs on a security-oriented Android OS called PrivatOS — is a carrier- and vendor-independent
unit that allows users to securely make and receive calls, exchange texts, transfer and store files, and engage in
video chats. Reportedly, it is compatible with any carrier except Verizon. Note that it is not an NSA-proof device, so
if you're a terrorist, they can still get you. Details about the $629 unit are available at www.blackphone.ch. ;
EVENTS, ADVANCES, AND NEWS
; The Blackphone runs a security-oriented version of Android.
May 2014 9
COMPUTERS and NETWORKING
Dig Up the Dirt!
So, your next-door neighbor seems pleasant. Dresses well, drives an expensive car, immaculately maintains
the yard and pool, and smiles and waves when you drive
by. That's nice, but how do you really know that it isn't all
a façade, concealing the fact that you're living next to an
insane dangerous criminal like John Wayne Gacy, Charlie
Manson, or Justin Bieber? No problem! Look him up on
Dirt Search ( www.dirtsearch.org). Just enter the first
name, last name, and state, and Dirt Search does the rest.
Unlike other search services, it doesn't demand payment
for the info. It's absolutely free (although donations are
happily accepted). The odd
thing is that it takes about five
minutes to complete a search
for one person. This makes it
seem like it must be very
thorough, but I did a similar
Google search that turned up
118 million results in just over
half a second, so what's up?
Who knows? Maybe Dirt Search
is based on an IBM PC XT with
a 300 baud modem. In any
event, you might find something
; Could a malevolent miscreant be your neighbor?