Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Cell phones and privacy protection

November 30, 2008

Cell phones and privacy protection

Indianapolis – After 13 Investigates aired its report “Tapping your cell phone,” viewers wrote in with questions.

The latest spy technology for cell phones is easy to find on the internet. 13 Investigates bought some spy software and, with the permission of a WTHR producer, downloaded it onto her cell phone.

What happened next is pretty spooky. I was able to listen in to her phone conversations, read her text messages, and no matter where she went with her cell phone, I got constant satellite updates on her location. I could literally track her movements anywhere she went.

Right after our investigation aired, emails started pouring in with lots of questions and concerns like this one from Bridget. She writes, “If I have the cell phone spyware on my cell phone, how would I find that out? How do I get rid of it?”

Richard Mislan is a cyber forensics specialist at Purdue University, and he’s pulled lots of hidden information off of cell phones. But he says even for a cyber detective, spy software is almost impossible to detect.

“We can get the phone and look at it and it’s not there so it’s hidden,” he said.

You can look for subtle signs yourself. For example, if your phone lights up for no apparent reason, or if it feels warm to the touch when you’re not using it, that could mean the phone is actually in use and being tapped.

As far as how you get rid of spy software, you don’t. You need a secret pass code to deactivate the program. If you don’t have it, you’re out of luck. At that point, you need a new phone.

Mandy sent this question: To tap your phone, “Is all a person needs is your cell phone number or does the person actually need your cell phone?”

The software used by 13 Investigates for our demonstration did require that we have physical possession of the cell phone. It took about ten minutes to download the spy program. But someone can tap your phone without ever laying hands on it, according to private investigator Tim Wilcox.

“There’s more sophisticated devices where you can do it remotely where you don’t have to have possession of the phone to do it,” said Wilcox.

Here’s a question from Robert. He says, “I have a friend that suspects her cell phone has been tapped. Her phone often has strange background noises when in use. How can she find out if her phone is tapped?”

In that situation, get ready to play detective. Tim Wilcox says it’s time for something called disinformation.

“The person who suspects their cell phone is bugged would carry on a conversation they’ve already pre-scripted with somebody else that has information so sensational, it would drive the third party, the bad guy, crazy and then they would make some contact or say something or get back to them so they’d know they third party is actually monitoring them,” said Wilcox.

The last question comes from Laurie who said, “Tell me which software you purchased that actually worked. My girlfriend has purchased two and they don’t seem to be working for her.”

Sorry, Laurie. We’re not telling you because anyone who wants spy software is probably up to no good.

“A lot of this is totally illegal,” said Mislan.

Rick Mislan says if you spy on someone’s cell phone without their permission, you can go to jail. “You’re giving up all of your privacy by someone tapping into your phone so this is totally illegal.”

One more thing you should know, the fancier your phone, the more you may be at risk. Some spy software won’t work on basic cell phones. But if you have a phone that connects you to the internet, it’s much easier to tap into.



IBM Predicts Talking Web, Solar-Powered Cell Phones, More

November 29, 2008

IBM Predicts Talking Web, Solar-Powered Cell Phones, More
A talking Web, solar technology embedded in windows and cell phones, and the end of forgetting will all come in the next five years, IBM predicts in its third annual Next Five in Five list.
Here, IBM detailed innovations that could change our lives in the next half-decade.
The other predictions: We will all have digital shopping assistants and, separately, “crystal balls” to predict our future health.

“The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible,” IBM says.
Here’s a look at IBM’s five predictions announced this week:

1. Solar power will be built into asphalt sidewalks, driveways, siding, paint, rooftops and windows. New thin-film solar cells will be cost-effective and incredibly thin, allowing them to be applied just about anywhere.

“Until now, the materials and the process of producing solar cells to convert into solar energy have been too costly for widespread adoption,” IBM says. “These new thin-film solar cells can be ‘printed’ and arranged on a flexible backing, suitable for not only the tops but also the sides of buildings, tinted windows, cell phones, notebook computers, cars and even clothing.”

2. You will have a crystal ball for your health — not a real crystal ball, but sophisticated analyses of your own DNA will tell you what types of health risks you face in your lifetime and the specific steps you can take to prevent them. DNA analyses will cost less than $200 (about Rs. 9000), IBM says, making them affordable for many. In addition to predicting health risks, IBM says the technology will tell us what we’re not at risk for, perhaps enabling certain people to enjoy foods like French fries and potato chips without guilt. Besides personal health profiles, DNA mapping will help drug companies design new, more effective medicine.

“Ever since scientists discovered how to map the entire human genome, it has opened new doors in helping to unlock the secrets our genes hold to predicting health traits and conditions we may be predisposed to,” IBM says.

3. “You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back.” Someday soon you will surf the Internet using just your voice, a development that will make the Web more widely accessible worldwide, particularly for those who cannot read or write.

“In places like India, where the spoken word is more prominent than the written word in education, government and culture, ‘talking’ to the Web is leapfrogging all other interfaces, and the mobile phone is outpacing the PC,” IBM says. “Imagine being within a phone call’s reach from the ability to post, scan and respond to e-mails and instant messages — without typing. You will be able to sort through the Web verbally to find what you are looking for and have the information read back to you — as if you are having a conversation with the Web.”

4. Digital technology will enhance your in-store shopping experience, with “digital shopping assistants” inside fitting rooms, touchscreen and voice-activated kiosks that will help you choose clothing items to complement or replace what you’ve already chosen. Store employees will be automatically notified and bring you the items you’ve requested. With rapidly improving mobile technology, shoppers will also read product ratings from other consumers, download coupons and take photos of themselves to send to friends and family and instantly get their opinions.

5. “Forgetting will become a distant memory,” IBM says in its final prediction. Remembering all the little things you forget will become easier because everyday details will be recorded, analyzed and “provided at the appropriate time and place by both portable and stationary smart appliances.” IBM predicts that microphones and video cameras will record everyday activities and conversations, whether those conversations happen with family members or doctors. GPS-enabled smartphones can then remind us, for example, to pick up groceries or prescriptions if we pass by the supermarket or pharmacy.

IBM makes no mention of laws that in some states forbid recording of conversations without the consent of all parties, so we’ll have to see how the legality of this one plays out.


Avoid dyes used in treats that play tricks on kids

October 31, 2008

Avoid dyes used in treats that play tricks on kids

As a child, on a night of serious trick-or-treating, I never cared for those “sensible” houses whose owners handed out erasers, rulers or nickels. It’s Halloween, for goodness sake, and some candy was the optimal demand of choice.

As a parent, I, too, turned a blind eye to healthy eating on Halloween, stocking up on mini Snickers bars or packets of M&M’s. I allowed my boys a good share of their Halloween loot, excusing the indulgence as a once-a-year folly.

Even as a mother who normally valued nutritional snacks and a balanced diet of fresh fruits and veggies, I would make the exception for this special night of treats. I didn’t want to be a spoiler and always felt a little indulgence in the way of candy and other treats wouldn’t harm either of my sons.

The evidence today counters my thinking and suggests that the dyes used in some candy are linked to serious behavioral problems. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has petitioned the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to ban these dyes altogether, calling these dyes the “secret shame” of the food industry.



Dr. Jim Stevenson, a professor at the University of Southampton and the lead researcher of a British study on artificial food dyes, has concluded that these dyes may not only cause hyperactivity and attention disorders but may deleteriously affect children’s IQ levels as much as gasoline!

This is nothing new to parents of children with disorders ranging from autism to ADHD. They have long-claimed that preservatives worsen the symptoms and exacerbate the condition. CPSI suggests the purpose of these dyes is to increase the appeal of low-nutrition products to children. According to the CPSI, Americans consume twice as much food dye as they did 50 years ago.

Amazingly, due to a large push in Great Britain, food manufacturers have removed artificial dyes from their foods. Mars uses only natural colorings in its Starburst and Skittles candy and McDonald’s has removed synthetic dyes from its strawberry milk shakes; the color for its strawberry sundaes is derived from strawberries, but in the States, it comes from Red Dye # 40!

Although the dyes are listed on the labels of food products in America, the FDA does not engage independent testing of artificial dyes but leaves it to food manufacturers to do testing. Not surprisingly, the food industry remains skeptical of any linkage between synthetic dyes and behavioral problems.

Indeed, a Columbia University study on the linkage between hyperactivity and food dyes found that domestic production of artificial dyes had quadrupled between 1995 and 1998. The number of American children diagnosed with Attention Deficit and hyperactivity disorders has also increased exponentially.

I’m not sure I’d leave it to the candy manufacturers to restrict potentially harmful food additives before making a decision about their impact on our kids. It’s been said that parents can achieve the results of reducing hyperactivity in their kids by cutting out artificial dyes from the diets of their children.

To be cautious, take a look at the fine print on the candy wrappers. If items such as Yellow #40, Red # 40 or Blue #2 are listed, avoid giving them to children. You will be side-stepping potential danger associated with these artificial dyes.

This Halloween, you may wish to think twice before handing out candy with artificial dyes in them. You also may wish to scrutinize your kids’ haul of goodies and engage in some negotiation over what your children can consume.

You may be telling yourself, but it’s only Halloween — a once-a-year extravagance — so what’s the harm? Fair enough and even dentists understand this holiday puts a strain on normal dental hygiene practices. But with a little creativity, you don’t have to take all the fun — or candy — out of Halloween.

Just try to exercise some prudence and a little restraint by being aware of the risks these chemical additives have. With a little planning, you can still make your little goblins enjoy their special treats without the real scare of dangerous dyes lurking in their goodies.

Metro Parent offers more suggestions for a safe, additive free Halloween on its Web site,

Taken From: Detnews