Jan 07

Dropout Jeep

If you have been reading the news lately then you are aware of the NSAs “Dropout Jeep” program. Simply put the agency has been intercepting everything from text messages and phone calls to a cell phones physical location. In addition it allows remote activation of the microphone and enables a third party to monitor external sounds even when the user is not making a phone call. As far criminal activity and threats to national security this is good news for the rest of us but it does beg to question what might happen when and if this technology falls into the wrong hands.
Sadly the fact is that advances in technology cannot be guarded well enough to prevent misuse entirely. If you are concerned about your cell phone being tapped then you most likely have a good reason to be. Hopefully it’s not the law that you are hiding from but more likely some private party, known or unknown, that stands to gain from intercepting your information. Whether it is someone who wants access to your bank account, hopes to blackmail you or has other reasons for prying into your personal life you must protect yourself.
If your phone has been tapped through the use of software installation then your best best is to perform a factory reset after you have backed up any important information. This should remove any third party applications that have been installed including spyware. Instructions for performing a factory reset with an iPhone or Android can be found on this site.
If you suspect that your phone has been bugged using a hardware installation then things become more complicated as you will need to have the phone completely disassembled and checked for any after market parts. You can find do-it-yourself guides online which demonstrate how to disassemble the majority of late model cell phones but in many cases this procedure is best left to a professional. The catch here of course is that you need to deal with someone that you can trust.
If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether either of the above can be successfully accomplished then your best bet is to get a new phone. Once again though there is always the possibility of remote software installation so this is not a guarantee that someone won’t eventually find a way to tap your cell phone again. Another consideration should be that even when powered off most phones GPS function can still be operational if it has been activated either by you or by a remote user who has access to your phone.
So how can you really be safe if you are worried about someone monitoring your cell phone? There is only one sure fire way to keep your phone from transmitting data and that is to physically remove the battery when you are not using it. Unfortunately many of today’s phones have internal batteries which are not accessible to the user. If that is the case then completely discharging your phones battery is the only way to be sure that nothing is being transmitted. This won’t protect you when the phone is turned on of course so you should avoid sharing sensitive information on your cell phone altogether.

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