Sunday 29 December 2013

Smartphone Apps for Boaters (30)

No matter which genre of smartphone you own or are thinking to buy. The apps that are available will have an influence on how happy you are with the phone. There are plenty of top quality apps that you can download. However for me There's always a remarkable sub-selection of apps that are totally free. 

The wonderfully named 'Android' phone seems to have cornered the market in the same way that VHS did with tape systems. Android's open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator apps available.

If you are reading this posting the chances are that you do a bit of blog reading/creating and have a smartphone. I use a laptop on the boat, I use a PC when we are at home and now I have started to use a Blogger app for the smartphone everywhere else.

The American spook Edward Snowden was a systems administrator who turned into a what is termed today as a whistle blower. He worked for the American 'National Security Agency' which is a sig-int (signals intelligence) gathering part of the American Government. Snowden revealed that the NSA was doing its own form of phone hacking to monitor mobile phone calls.

Basically what Snowden did was to provide proof - if proof were needed - that demonstrated what had been well known for years. The Internet is an insecure medium for all kinds of transactions. However, what has happened post Snowden is a change of emphasis. No longer to provide proof that criminal elements are busy with their scams. The proof is that America is behaving like the criminals and that the NSA has turned the Internet into an information (spying) gathering network. And that the NSA has done this and continues to do this on an industrial scale.
I'm not an American, I don't live in America, I have little in the way of any links to America. I am British, I live in Britain and I am a citizen of Great Britain. Now call me simplistic, but if its criminal to spy on my personal information by Nigerian scam artists - Then it must be criminal for the NSA to spy on my personal information do as well. 
Now on the grand scale of things. If the NSA want to listen into my phone calls. I'm sure that knowing when my next bog pumpout is scheduled will be very very edifying. Plus as they want to gather the dirt, it seems quite appropriate.

Even the Economist has published recommendation.
That fact that the NSA has been routinely monitoring the phone calls of the general population of its allies is one thing. But the revelation that it has been targeting the phones of our leaders is something totally different. Call me an old fashioned cove if you must. But its not cricket old boy to routinely monitor the phone calls of your friends. In fact no true friend would even consider doing such a thing.

A mobile phone of any description is just a telephone with a radio attached. Like a broadcast radio, anyone can listen into the radio frequencies. To make this listening in more difficult to achieve the telephone manufacturers have been using various methods of encryption or cryptography. Now the various forms of cryptography are getting stronger. Strong in this case means taking longer to decrypt and at the same time requiring more and more powerful computer systems to do the decryption.

Now, if my government chooses to spy on me, then so be it. As a citizen of Great Britain it comes as a given. We expect our security services to keep us safe and so the security services need to be able to carry out such tasks. But we have a system of checks and balances built into such a system because the security services also need to obtain a court order. With the appropriate court order, our security services can obtain details and assistance from our service providers to carry out such surveillance.

There is no court in any country in the world would grant America a court order to spy on its citizens.  So the Americans have a whole different approach. They are trying to get mobile phone manufacturers to provide vulnerabilities into the smartphone firmware. Now, because our smartphones have a built in computer. That can be used to surf the net, send text and emails. Not only that but the phone can fix its position with satellite navigation and because we might be using them for banking. This makes us into very juicy targets indeed.

But it does not stop there, there is a back-up plan 'B'.  Many of the email systems that we use on the Internet are located on large computer systems located in the USA. How do they get you to use such systems? They provide you with a free basic service. Outlook (free) Gmail (free)  Yahoo (free) are typical of what's available. Your chosen free email service will typically reward you with plenty of free storage, free spam filtering, a desktop email program as well as mobile access from your smartphone. (there's a surprise)

Outlook provides free email with almost unlimited storage which allows you to keep all your messages. Accessible with the web interface or using POP on desktop and mobile device. (there's a surprise)
Gmail is the offering from Google for free email. Almost unlimited free on-line storage allows you to keep all your messages. Gmail's simple POP and IMAP access bring Gmail to your smartphone. (there's a surprise)
Yahoo is a free web based email program with unlimited storage which allows you to keep all your messages. Includes SMS texting, social networking and instant messaging with support for mobile devices. (there's a surprise)
Google, which, of course, must be able to read its customers’ e-mail in order to inflict advertisements on them, nevertheless relies on people trusting it to guard their data. On October 30th the Washington Post reported that America’s spies have bugged private, unencrypted fibre-optic cables which carry information between the data centres in the worldwide networks of Google and Yahoo, without the companies’ knowledge.
Then there is back-up Plan 'C' Facebook, a simple messaging system that is organised by the people with whom you communicate. Facebook combines social networking with shared emails with everybody. Providing conversations with Facebook friends and SMS texts in a single interface.

Not forgetting back-up Plan 'E' Ask yourself, just how good do you think Google's Android or Apple's iOS smartphone system are.

Another is back-up plan 'F' Impersonating the mobile network itself. This is much easier to achieve than you might suppose.  By setting up a fake mobile network and persuading the target's phone to connect to it. At a hacker conference in 2010, a security researcher called Chris Paget gave a Live Demonstration of how this works, using less than £1500 of off-the-shelf equipment. A  rogue mobile network can instruct phones that connect to it to do all sorts of things, such as turn off encryption.

Police forces around the world are known to use fake mobile networks to silently listen in on calls made by their targets. A recent book available on Amazon describes how the security services have removed several such fake mobile networks - run by foreign embassies - from around Washington, DC.

Typical analysis software Click Here

So what can you do to protect the personal information contained inside your SmartPhone?

EncryptIt is a multi purpose utility to encrypt any text. It utilises best practises for encryption to ensure your data is safe from prying eyes. Encrypt your emails, messages, memos, notes, appointments, etc. 

EncryptIt uses 256bit encryption. Uses salting to enhance the security of the seed/password to withstand brute force attacks and rainbow tables. Uses salting to randomise the output to further enhance security.


To encrypt:
1. Type or paste text that is to be encrypted.
2. Enter a seed (password), and hit the Encrypt button. The output is the scrambled text which can be save in an application or sent to someone.

To decrypt:
1. Paste the scrambled text to the application.
2. Enter the seed (password) and hit the Decrypt button.

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