Phone Privacy: A Layered, Necessary Approach to Security

Reports flooded the internet this week that left parents reeling for the safety of their children. A Russian, hacker-run website published live feeds of many families’ private webcams, all of which were streaming live to a “password-protected” website, intended for parents worried about their children’s sleeping security.

So how does this happen – continue to happen – in this day and age? One problem is that many web camera owners don’t change the default password, making it infinitely easier for creepy sites like this to gain access.In my line of work, this begs the question: is it possible for someone to access the camera on your always-connected smartphone? The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding YES.  It absolutely is.  Phone privacy is a serious and growing issue, and it’s not going anywhere.

Android phones are easier to hack into than Apple’s iPhones, but just recently, Apple discovered Malware known as “Wirelurker” that disguises itself as a legitimate app to gain access to your personal data.In an interview earlier this year, Edward Snowden told NBC’s Brian Williams that the NSA can access the camera on your phone “even when it is turned off.” While I have nothing to hide, and most of us don’t, I’m not crazy about this concept. It’s only a matter of time before someone builds an easy-to-use piece of software that can give your “frenemie” access to your phone’s camera.

 

The issue is incredibly complex, but the solution is remarkably simple. You can’t hack a piece of plastic. Before the EyePatch Case hit the market, people would put a piece of tape over their phone and laptop camera. Howard Stern (link has some strong language) and Forbes’ Joseph Steinberg both have proudly proclaimed doing so. We’ve proudly created a much more effective, and aesthetically pleasing option for those concerned about safety.


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