Cellular phones are scary to me. I had an old cell phone I have been carrying around for a few years and visited a phone store a few months ago to get a new one. When I browsed the phone selection I noticed that none of the brands show hardware specifications for the phones they sell. The companies intentionally leave them off to obscure information about phones people are paying for. To my surprise though, phone technology in the last five years has progressed to a level far beyond my imagination.
The computing power of a cell phone on store shelves now easily compares to a laptop and functions like one too. Internet and phone apps accomplish all the daily tasks a person would need on their laptop for the small trade off of a small screen. But because of the forced simplicity of iOS, Android, and other smartphones compared to a laptop, it is more difficult to see what your phone is running or who it might exchange information with. The tools for monitoring processes on your machine are not included by default anymore. Smartphones are susceptible to viruses to phones very similar to ones on computers and it can be difficult to spot one. Once someone has control of a victim’s phone, they could have video, audio and GPS locations for any desired purpose.
Sometimes the problem has nothing to do with the software and can not be controlled at all. Because of the demand for rapid technology development and standards, many hardware and software designs remain vulnerable. Many GSM phones have a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card in them, common on many cellular networks.
Before smartphones became remotely significant, SIM cards were thought to be the source of handling all of the customer’s needs. SIM cards are used because of they are a “secure” form of confirming an identity by making it difficult to duplicate. Thought to be the future of mobile technology, SIM cards would hold all personal information and even run applications called “applets” much like a tiny computer.
Not only does your phone have one computer chip you can barely control, but the SIM card is difficult to access. Furthermore, SIMs are connected directly to a cell phone’s band and can directly communicate with networks all on its own.
Cellular providers can send data to your SIM card to update software and firmware automatically without notifying the user, but they aren’t the only ones who can do that. If queried with a certain message, SIM cards automatically send a text message. It can’t be stopped and some phones don’t even notify the user if one is being sent. A premium phone line communicating with a SIM card charging by the text message would only show up on a phone bill.
Two computers in one phone, both of which are connected to cellular networks and the internet, is slowly feeding my paranoia towards Wi-Fi devices. For the sake of convenience, people are losing their ability to keep their lives private and society needs to be aware of this.