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Wynmor  1     Wes Wynmor Malcolm Campbell English 1102 4/01/2013

Who are smartphone convenient for?

Do you enjoy the increasing power and control of your smartphone? Can you start your car and crank the heat with the touch of a button? Or control your house security system and thermostat? And could anyone else do all the same things to your stuff? This is a concern I’ve been wondering about as the power and convenience of smartphones has continued to increase. 35% of people just in the United States have smartphones, and 89% of them use them throughout the day. Smartphones have become more and more like computers and in some ways have surpassed computers. They can go on the Internet anywhere there’s a cell signal, which is almost everywhere now as well as at Wi-Fi hot spots. Smartphones also have over a billion apps now, which are essentially the equivalent to a computer program, except there are many more apps to be had. Apps can run big complex programs that have lots of power and abilities or simple things like a note pad on your phone. They have an app to do pretty much anything. You can manage your bank accounts with apps and control every social network you’re a part of or may become a part of. You can even control some of the features on newer cars with your phone, like starting the engine and cranking the heat. You can also control your houses thermostat, lights and security system. So the
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Wynmor  2     question is if we can control almost anything from our smartphones, could someone hack into your phone and gain control of all the same things? My suspicions of phones being open to hacking because of their similarity to computers was confirmed when I read, “As cellphones have gotten smarter, they have become less like phones and more like computers, and thus susceptible to hacking. But unlike desktop, or even most laptop computers, cellphones are almost always on hand, and are often loaded with even more personal information” (Murphy). It seems to me that the increasing convenience phones are bringing us could also come at the cost of our privacy and security. Although it’s not common yet, research has been done to demonstrate how easy it would be to get into a phone and gain access to many private and personal things on in it. Could this become a bigger thing and could our phones become more dangerous, then they are convenient and helpful? Convenience has become an increasingly popular goal of smartphone companies and app makers. Being able to do almost anything with your phone is becoming more and more possible and people including myself are getting more and more into it. But as I get in to the ability to control my TV, computer, and deposit checks all with my phone, I also can’t help but wonder how secure this all is. After reading books and watching movies about computer hacking and all the things that can be done with hacking and how easy it is for some people, it is kind of cool to me but also makes me wonder how that would apply to smartphones, which are very similar to computers. If you can hack a computer and gain access to all the information about the person that owns it or hack a company and gain control of all their systems, imagine what you could gain control of through a smartphone with an app for everything. People keep pretty much their whole lives on
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Wynmor  3     their phones, so it seems like if you could get into their phone you could get pretty much everything. And that would cause major security issues for everyone and everything. Many people have proven that it is very possible to get into a phone and easily gain access to anything on it. Contacts, emails, social networks are all things that are easily accessed once into a persons phone. Kate Murphy of the New York Times writes an article on a man named Chuck Bokath who is a jovial senior engineer at Georgia Tech who demonstrates the ease of hacking a smartphone. “Mr. Bokath can hack into your cellphone just by dialing the number. He can remotely listen to your calls, read your text messages, snap pictures with your phone’s camera and track your movements around town — not to mention access the password to your online bank account”(Murphy). Bokath’s real job is to actually prevent all this from happening, his job is to reveal security flaws so they can hopefully be fixed. Lookout Inc. is the main security software provider for most smartphones; Lookout predicted that 2012 would be the up roar in the smartphone hacking, but so far it still seems to be much of an unheard of issue in the world today.
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According to John P. Passwords are the key to easy access of almost everything. “The   most  important  thing  when  it  comes  to  taking  over  your  world  is  knowing  your   passwords.  So  the  majority  of  hacks  are  aimed  at  this  one  goal.  Control  the   passwords,  and  you  literally  control  the  digital  life”  (P.).       He  then  goes  on  to  describe  how  many people use the same password for everything, which makes it easy for a person to get a hold of your password and gain access to everything. Also if they get in your email, which is almost always up on a

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Wynmor  4     smartphone, the hacker can ask for any password reset your accounts might have. Other then a more simple stealing of a password there are more complex ways that take a more skilled person but its been proven not that hard a task either. Many hackers get in through apps. There are a lot of unsafe apps out there; pretty much anyone can make an app and put it on the market, and they are minimally monitored. Chuck Bokath shows another way, in The New York Times article, to get into a smartphone easy. He places a Trojan virus or other kinds of viruses hidden in an app so when you use a part of the app the virus is freed and the hacker can take remote access of your phone. He demonstrated many of the same maneuvers once again to take control of your phone and retrieve any information about you he’d like. Now all of this has been proven not too difficult, but you will be slightly assured to know it is still not a very common problem yet according to The New York Times. Of course John P. says almost all phones are already infected, and people hackers are getting access to many personal things just very quietly without the people knowing. So it is not yet proven how bad the problem actually is now, but it seems like a problem that is definitely up and coming soon. The reason why I believe this, is because people worry about their computer frequently and almost everyone makes sure to have at least some kind of security software on their computer. But when it comes to your phone people barely give it a second thought. Most people have not heard about phone hackings at all and people just assume maybe people haven’t figured out how to do that yet. There are only about 9 regarded security software apps for smartphone out there but nobody knows about them or seems to care. Smartphones would be a prime hacking opportunity for these reasons: there is barely any security because no one is expecting it, and for most people there
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Wynmor  5     phone holds their lives. People will hold everything on it, a full schedule of their life and all the plans involved, their emails, their social networks and much much more, and that’s all on top of the apps that can access and control everything from right on your phone. It sounds like a hacker’s dream to me. I always enjoy a good book or movie about people using some high tech hacking tricks to break in somewhere or gain control of something. It was always cool the things they could do, but also quite scary too. When I got my smartphone I was very interested to see all the different and amazing things you could do just from your phone, I could control certain things on my computer from my phone, I could connect to our cable box back home and watch TV on my phone and I could even deposit checks in my bank account from my phone. All this stuff was so intriguing to me and I always had fun trying out or hearing about all the new cool apps. But one day I got to thinking if I have accesses to all this stuff especially important stuff like home security and the car, could someone just hack into my phone and have control of all of that too? Phones are very similar to computers now so why not? Well I learned from my research on the matter that the question is not really, can they? Or could they? But are they? John P. described some simple but clever ways of easily gaining more access then one would ever want. Then Chuck Bokath gave some very serious and scary examples of how he could get in and all the things in your phone he could do and would have access to. Bokath talked about how a big issue is unsafe apps, hackers can make there own app get your to download it and then they are in. And that’s where the big problem lies, people don’t think about it or worry about it because they just don’t consider it much of an issue right now. Well that is the question is it an issue right now? Some people, like John P. say yes for sure, most
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Wynmor  6     phones are already infected and infiltrated through small viruses in apple and texts that let the hacker quietly sip on your personal information. Others like Chuck Bokath say, yeah it would be easy to do but not that many people are doing it yet, because maybe its too expensive or hackers are just more used to computers. I personally have not really experienced or heard of any problems like this yet and hope not to, but after my learning more about it I do believe it is going to become a bigger problem. There are security software companies out there, such as BullGuard, and Lockout, making a few security apps for phones, but they are not advertised at all so not many knows they exist, and know one really wonders much either, because as far as they know its not a problem. Even if people did know about the security apps, they run for about $30-$40 so people probable wouldn’t go for them any especially because its not a big problem still either. I think phone hacking will have a huge rush out of the gates when it becomes a problem and because of that be very hard to bring under control. Phones can and do carry literally everything a person needs now so it makes them a prime device to hack into, and gain control of some potentialy serious things and very personal things a person could have on there. That’s why I think phones will be a very appealing target, because no one is particularly concerned about it at the moment, so hackers will have an easy start and be able to rush hard for a while. While security software will be scrambling to catch up and get on top of the problem. People could lose a lot, and there phones which they looked to for everything, could soon become the biggest problem of their lives. So far it is barely a problem and seems to be under control, but from what I have learned it could hit the ground running in no time. I do hope it does not, but people should take more precautions now. When downloading apps look in to them first, make sure they are legit, and check
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Wynmor  7     how your phone is running, if is starts messing up or running slow and your cant figure out why, you may be hacked.
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Wynmor  8     Work Cited "Avoid These Dangers With Mobile Devices." Consumer Reports Money Adviser 10.2 (2013): 3. Business Source Complete. Web. 19 Feb.
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Barry, Keith. "Can Your Car Be Hacked." Car And Driver. 08 2011: n. page. Web. 26 Feb. 2013 Murphy, Kate. "Build Up Your Phone's Defenses Against Hackers." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

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P., John. "How I Hack Your Weak Cell Phone." Geek Beat Technology News. N.p., 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.
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