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The stalker in your pocket Mike Elgan / Computerworld For most of a century, viagra and lisinopril nosey people, viagra and lisinopril both professional and amateur, viagra and lisinopril have used microphones and cameras to listen to and watch unsuspecting targets. In recent years, viagra and lisinopril the miniaturization of electronics has enabled these devices to be hidden.Extreme drops in price have made spy electronics available to anyone, viagra and lisinopril even creepy stalker types. The only remaining challenge is placement: If anyone wants to capture the juicy tidbits, viagra and lisinopril they've got to have a microphone or camera in the right place at the right time. Enter the camera phone, viagra and lisinopril a dream come true for not just spies but a new breed of "cell phone stalkers." Camera phones contain all the necessary ingredients for completely invasive stalking: a microphone, viagra and lisinopril camera, viagra and lisinopril personal data on the user, viagra and lisinopril location information, viagra and lisinopril a chat and call history -- you name it. And victims carry them everywhere they go. All that's missing is the software that lets stalkers take control. This new software, viagra and lisinopril called snoopware, viagra and lisinopril does just that. Viagra and lisinopril Snoopware -- both legal and illegal -- enables stalkers to secretly seize control of a phone's electronics to listen, viagra and lisinopril watch and spy on their victims. Welcome to the creepy new world of cell phone stalking. Although cell phone stalking is new, viagra and lisinopril there's already plenty of bad information, viagra and lisinopril urban legends and false beliefs about it in circulation.  I'm going to sort all this out for you, viagra and lisinopril tell you about what's possible and how to protect yourself (it's easier than you think). Viagra and lisinopril But first, viagra and lisinopril let's look at the first and most celebrated case to date of this new world of cell phone stalking. Meet the Kuykendalls I told you in a previous column about a family in Washington state called the Kuykendalls, viagra and lisinopril who say that a hacker was stalking them through three of their cell phones for more than four months. The stalker seemed to perform unprecedented cell phone superhacks, viagra and lisinopril according to press reports. For example, viagra and lisinopril he watched them through their phones' cameras and listened through the microphones. Viagra and lisinopril When they turned off the phones, viagra and lisinopril the hacker turned them back on remotely, viagra and lisinopril seized control of the phones and sent text messages from them. When they got new phones, viagra and lisinopril the hacking continued. Even scarier, viagra and lisinopril they received almost daily threats of violence from an anonymous caller, viagra and lisinopril who seemed to be calling from a family member's own phone, viagra and lisinopril even when that phone was turned off, viagra and lisinopril and provided details about what they were doing and even what they were wearing. In addition to the Kuykendalls, viagra and lisinopril the family's neighbor and Mrs. Viagra and lisinopril Kuykendall's sister were also harassed by the anonymous caller. Although the mainstream press played up these events as some kind of terrifying superhack, viagra and lisinopril I think something much more ordinary is going on. The most likely explanation, viagra and lisinopril based on the limited information publicly available, viagra and lisinopril is that some malicious script kiddie, viagra and lisinopril who knows the family personally, viagra and lisinopril pulled off one or two simple hacks, viagra and lisinopril then "socially engineered" the family into thinking he'd done something more impressive. For example, viagra and lisinopril a combination of spoofing one of the family's cell phone's Caller ID, viagra and lisinopril which is easy to do, viagra and lisinopril and using that trick to retrieve voice mail, viagra and lisinopril plus possibly hacking the carrier's Web site to change ringtones and cause other mischief. Viagra and lisinopril These steps, viagra and lisinopril combined with old-fashioned spying on the family in person, viagra and lisinopril could explain nearly all the superhacking claims. Hacked? Yes. Viagra and lisinopril Disturbing? Very. Viagra and lisinopril Illegal? Absolutely. But it's a far cry from the picture painted in the press of some unstoppable arch-villain mastermind. Experts interviewed on TV and in the newspapers answer "yes" to the question, viagra and lisinopril "Is this kind of hack possible?" And, viagra and lisinopril in fact, viagra and lisinopril it is possible, viagra and lisinopril but spectacularly unlikely. To pull off the Kuykendalls' superhack described in the press, viagra and lisinopril the family would have to repeatedly buy high-end camera phones, viagra and lisinopril such as Windows Mobile, viagra and lisinopril BlackBerry or other devices, viagra and lisinopril leave Java support on, viagra and lisinopril keep Bluetooth on and in "autodiscovery" mode, viagra and lisinopril or give the hacker full physical access to the phones to install several snoopware applications. What's possible? Snoopware is on the rise, viagra and lisinopril mostly because of the increasing sophistication of phones. Viagra and lisinopril They're like mini-PCs. Viagra and lisinopril Most snoopware attacks have taken place in Europe and Asia. Viagra and lisinopril But they're coming to America. Security experts estimate that there are more than 400 types of snoopware (most of them variants of a few major snoopware programs), viagra and lisinopril and that figure may top 1, viagra and lisinopril000 by the end of the year. Your typical new snoopware program might enable someone to listen to phone calls and read e-mail and text messages, viagra and lisinopril or steal contacts and other data. Viagra and lisinopril Some snoopware can use your phone's microphone to listen, viagra and lisinopril even when the phone is supposedly "off." Other programs can capture images from a camera phone's camera. Snoopware is the kind of software used by the government to eavesdrop on gangsters and terrorists. But snoopware isn't the only way to stalk via cell phone. Most carriers offer a "skip passcode" feature that lets you turn off voice mail password-checking when you call from your cell phone. Viagra and lisinopril But because carriers use Caller ID to verify the phone, viagra and lisinopril cell phones "spoofing" another phone's number can get in, viagra and lisinopril enabling hackers to access your voice mail and other features without ever knowing the password. Semilegitimate snoopware programs called Mobile Spy from Retina-X Studios and FlexiSpy from Vervata run invisibly and upload text messages and phone logs to an online server. Viagra and lisinopril They can also upload location information. Viagra and lisinopril Mobil Spy runs only on Windows Mobile phones, viagra and lisinopril while FlexiSpy offers versions for Series 60 Nokia phones, viagra and lisinopril BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones. Viagra and lisinopril A Pro version of FlexiSpy enables eavesdropping through cell phone microphones when you call a dedicated phone number. Viagra and lisinopril A future Pro-X version will let you listen in on calls in progress. The companies target concerned parents, viagra and lisinopril suspicious spouses and distrustful bosses, viagra and lisinopril but obviously a malicious hacker could use them for cell phone stalking. Sounds bad. Viagra and lisinopril But be aware that these programs require physical access to the phone for installation, viagra and lisinopril and they're easy to detect. Viagra and lisinopril The security software companies generally consider these applications as malware, viagra and lisinopril and alert users to their presence. How to beat cell phone stalkers The best cure is prevention. Viagra and lisinopril Don't allow strangers to gain access to your phone. Like any other kind of software, viagra and lisinopril snoopware doesn't install itself. Viagra and lisinopril The leading methods for installation are physical access installation, viagra and lisinopril where the user installs by clicking on an attachment or link; or via Bluetooth. Viagra and lisinopril By preventing potential stalkers from touching your phone, viagra and lisinopril never clicking on e-mail attachments or links from strangers, viagra and lisinopril and turning off Bluetooth autodiscovery, viagra and lisinopril you'll keep snoopware off your phone. The fact is, viagra and lisinopril snoopware hacks are dangerous only if you're unaware of them. Viagra and lisinopril Once you suspect someone is using your cell phone to spy on you, viagra and lisinopril it's trivially easy to stop them. Let me count the ways: 1. Viagra and lisinopril Buy an anti-malware application from vendors like Symantec, viagra and lisinopril McAfee, viagra and lisinopril Trend Micro, viagra and lisinopril F-Secure, viagra and lisinopril SMobile, viagra and lisinopril MyMobiSafe and others. Viagra and lisinopril These products find not just the shadowy, viagra and lisinopril hacker snoopware programs, viagra and lisinopril but the legal ones, viagra and lisinopril too. 2. Viagra and lisinopril Turn on passwords for voice mail access. Viagra and lisinopril Do you have to enter a password each time you check voice mail? If not, viagra and lisinopril your carrier has enabled the "skip passcode" feature. Viagra and lisinopril A stalker spoofing your Caller ID can check your voice mail, viagra and lisinopril too. Viagra and lisinopril But by re-enabling a good password, viagra and lisinopril it will be much easier to keep your voice mail private. 3. Viagra and lisinopril Downgrade your cell phone. Viagra and lisinopril Snoopware works only on the most advanced phones. Viagra and lisinopril For nontechnical users like the Kuykendalls, viagra and lisinopril one simple solution is to swap out your high-end phone for a cheaper model that doesn't support Java or Bluetooth and doesn't have a camera. Viagra and lisinopril This isn't a good solution for gadget fans, viagra and lisinopril but for families feeling terrorized, viagra and lisinopril this is a cheap, viagra and lisinopril fast and easy way to get control. 4. Viagra and lisinopril Switch carriers. Viagra and lisinopril There's not much you can do at the handset level to foil a hack of the carrier's Web site. Viagra and lisinopril If the company can't shut down the hacker, viagra and lisinopril switch to another carrier. 5. Viagra and lisinopril Buy an anonymous prepaid phone. Viagra and lisinopril The last-ditch solution (just before going without a cell phone) is to buy a prepaid phone from 7-Eleven or a similar store. Viagra and lisinopril This provides not only the benefits of a low-tech cell phone and a new carrier, viagra and lisinopril but greater anonymity. The cell phone stalker trend is real. Viagra and lisinopril But simple, viagra and lisinopril common-sense precautions can protect you and your family from malicious harassment. Link to original article:  http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9027438&source=rss_news10 Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Viagra and lisinopril Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com or his blog, viagra and lisinopril The Raw Feed.