The Home Front, a cyber warrior’s guide


Android users: your phone is under attack. You know that Swype keyboard that’s so much nicer than clicking on each letter? That’s a surveillance device that logs every word you input. Switch to Google Keyboard right now. Swype Keyboard Free lists the following Permission Details: approximate (network based) location, precise (GPS) location, read your text messages, read call log, record audio, read terms you added to the dictionary. Google Keyboard contains none of that. Why does a keyboard app need GPS coordinates?

Step one: restore factory default. Dump all those losers right now. Settings, Privacy, Factory data reset. Do not check the box to Erase Internal Storage unless you want to lose all your music and pictures. You can’t get rid of Facebook, but you can choose not to participate. Facebook requires all sorts of surveillance devices in the Permission Details: precise (GPS) location, approximate (network based) location, read your test messages, take pictures and videos, record audio, etc.

Facebook is a White Hat operation, real names, no gimmicks. I trust Facebook and continue to use it, knowing that the data I publish, including text messages, may be visible to the US Federal Government. I use a lot less profanity in public, too. I am very suspicious of developers that want Homeland Security level power for unknown purposes. We know which door the Feds are knocking on. Who’s knocking on these other doors?

Encryption is key (get it?). Conventional wisdom is that protecting data is only for rich people. Here in America, all of y’all are rich people. Opening a line of credit is easy with credentials as humble as a recent water bill. Are you banking online from your phone? If so, you may have entered your login credentials while running a two-faced program that logs your keystrokes. If your billing information is up to date, a thief can now spend and borrow in your name.

Change your password. Make it one you’ve never used before. A swipe lock gives a hacker a one in nine chance three or four times. A password gives a hacker a one in sixty-six chance up to seventeen times. And yes, your phone can be hacked remotely while it is charging and you are sleeping. It is visible on the net and therefore vulnerable to cyber attack. Encryption means no information can be viewed without the key, your password.

Be careful what you download. Read the Permission Details. A smart phone is a powerful thing. In the wrong hands it can be very dangerous.