Thursday, December 07, 2006

Your cell phone needs a tin-foil hat

A court case has revealed that the FBI is able to remotely activate the microphone of a mobile phone and use it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.  The phone doesn’t have to be turned on.  It appears that the ability to use the phone as a bug can be installed using software remotely placed on the phone, without the knowledge of the phone owner, by the cell phone company.  There are ways to obtain an indication that your phone is transmitting when it is not supposed to be, but none of them are foolproof (if you don’t mind looking like a dork, you can buy a sticker or antenna attachment that flashes when your phone is transmitting).  The only secure way around surreptitious transmitting is to remove the battery from the phone. 

There is a debate whether the FBI is already using RFID transponders embedded in tires, coupled with a program to connect RFID tag numbers with the names of tire owners, to monitor vehicle movement.  If they are not already doing it, you can be sure that they will.