I’ll be honest: If the recent blog article by my colleague Yves Landry left you feeling a little paranoid (see How to Stop Gmail, Facebook and Twitter From Selling Your Private Info to Advertisers), then this article will do little to reassure you.
In fact, it might even make things worse.
But if you’re among the two-thirds of U.S. consumers who now own a mobile device, then you really should know that your privacy is at more risk than you thought.
Now, if I had told you a few years ago that the government could spy on your mobile phone, I probably would have been branded as a conspiracy theorist. After all, why would the government covertly collect emails, text messages, call histories and address books from everyday citizens? And it certainly wouldn’t bother to log keystrokes, obtain search histories, or activate microphones and take camera shots, right?
And yet… Researchers working independently of each other at the Kaspersky Lab in Russia and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs discovered some very interesting findings regarding mobile phone spying and world governments, as explained in a recent Wired article.
Surveillance tool used by more than 60 governments uncovered
It turns out it’s not just the U.S. government that’s doing all the spying. The research teams report that they have broken into a tool developed by Italian company Hacking Team, which is now being used by more than 60 nations to target users of Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry operating systems.
The tool is so sophisticated that it can trigger microphone recordings only in certain conditions to avoid draining the phone’s battery life by constant spying and arousing suspicion.
The Wired article gives a lengthy description of the tool’s functionalities, and how it’s used by government agencies to spy on suspected criminals.
But like Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA, these findings are yet another clear warning that new surveillance technologies may not only do a better job of catching the “bad” guys; they can also pose new risks to our everyday privacy.