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Are you a smartphone zombie?

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th January 2012 12:09 PM

So, once upon a time, I had this BlackBerry. A handsome little purchase I sacrificed months’ worth of pedicures to acquire. It had all the perks of a really great phone;

So, once upon a time, I had this BlackBerry. A handsome little purchase I sacrificed months’ worth of pedicures to acquire. It had all the perks of a really great phone;

So, once upon a time, I had this BlackBerry. A handsome little purchase I sacrificed months’ worth of pedicures to acquire. It had all the perks of a really great phone; incredible graphics, instant messaging, uninterrupted internet connection.

The only problem I had with it really was that the keypad seemed to have been designed for ant feet and not human fingers.

Then it subtly, but progressively started to take over my life. On one occasion, I pulled up to a red (traffic) light and instantly started checking my email.

For long, I had been a critic of texting while driving, but it was only on that day that I understood why the phone was nicknamed the CrackBerry as the parade of angry rush-hour drifters behind me started hooting in chorus, urging me to respond to the green light. A true addiction entails a growing tolerance to a substance (think drugs or alcohol) such that you need more to get “high,” suffer uncomfortable symptoms during withdrawal, and advances a deleterious impact on your social life.And that, to put it clinically, was an accurate diagnosis of this cancer I was harbouring.

How much is too much?

Let’s be real here, there is a huge difference between ‘normal usage’ and ‘annoying usage,’ and unfortunately, most people fall far outside that range and have entered what can only be termed as ‘malignant smartphone dementia.’
It’s as though we have them surgically grafted onto our palms the minute we acquire them.

From church, to the shower, lecture halls, boardrooms, the cinema. I dare say some people would carry their cell-phones to their graves with them if they could.

I have quite literally sat through entire social interactions with multiple people laughing their lungs out at what is going on at the party/dinner/lunch and there is this one person in the group, staring down expressionlessly at his or her phone typing away the whole time.

I especially hate the beginning of dinners where everyone sits down and places their phone on the table like a panel of reporters attending an exclusive interview with Kate Middleton, trying not to miss a quote.

So what? What is it about owning a smartphone that turns people into mindless zombies anyway? It’s like they lose all ability to think for themselves. You can’t drive anywhere without them pulling it out and exclaiming with ditty glee that they now have a map on their phone, showing you where to go. I’m thinking: “It’s my house, I know where I live.”

You can’t carry on a conversation with them either without them whipping it out and googling whatever you’re talking about to check the validity. I mean it’s called a conversation, you should look that up too while you’re in there.

Thanks to bluetooth, stuff on your phone aint yours alone
I have seen lots of hacking and tampering, the kind of hacking that requires a laptop with a very good processing unit and special software. I hang out a lot with this hacker friend of mine who calls himself Guts & Balls.

Hackers have all sorts of wacky names and my friend is no exception. Well, Guts & Balls can hack into a supermarket’s surveillance system, a cinema’s ticketing system, websites and whatever else is fun.

Perhaps that’s why I always hang with him. But he doesn’t hack into mobile phones. He despises phone hackers coz hacking into phones is as easy as using blueooth.

Let me elaborate. Bluetooth is a wireless communication that enables the transfer of data at a speed of up to 3mbps and within a range of up to 100 metres.

Bluetooth has lots of uses; it enables one use wireless headsets, synchronise with a computer and the last and the most relevant to this article, opening doors to hackers. Hackers can use your bluetooth connection to get information from your phone, and manipulate it.

Until bluetooth was incorporated to phones, the only communication method used by the device was the network connection. Now that there is bluetooth, it provides a perfect entry point for manipulation.

The fact that we tend to keep lots of important and embarrassing stuff on our phones makes ‘bluetooth attacks’ even more scary. Imagine if it was your Mum or girlfriend hacking into your phone, death!

While simply having bluetooth doesn’t make you vulnerable, having the bluetooth function enabled does. I know people who entirely depend on bluetooth to get and share files.In many cases they chill it on, or just ‘hide’ it.

How hackers use bluetooth

A hacker can simply download special software and install it on a laptop, phone or notebook. There is a lot of software on the internet designed to hack into devices with bluetooth. The hacker can then install a bluetooth antenna to a computer and put in a backpack or briefcase or anything that he can easily move around with. Now all he has to do is walk around a
public place with his computer picking signals.

The computer constantly scans for active bluetooth connections whether domant or in use. All the hacker has to do is walk around without raising suspicion. He can collect as much data as he wants, which he can manipulate. Some hacks are harmless but bluetooth allows the hacker to do lots of things.

Once the hacker gets into your phone, he can download your phonebook, photos, messages, simcard details and make calls. A hacker can also make purchases using your account or even send you a code that can crash your device.
Blue snarfing is the term given to all the above. But there is a more scary and lethal attack, this is called Bluebugging!


Bluebugging 

Here the hacker uses your phone as a bug. If you have seen 24 you are familiar with bugs, and you know that they can be placed anywhere, in your pocket or under a cup. They are programmed to tap and transmit voice recordings, which the hacker can listen to. He can also listen to or interrupt your phone conversation.
The possibilities are virtually endless.

Many people think they are safe since bluetooth is such a short range communication method. What they forget is that there are special antennae developed solely for this application, and hackers can connect to phones that are up to 1000 feet and more away. So a single hacker can take down the whole of Oasis mall, if he was strategically located.

Beat the hackers at their game
The only and best way to avoid such an attack is to simply remember to turn off your bluetooth when you are not using it. Alot of people will simply put bluetooth in “hidden” or “private” which makes them think
 they are safe, but in reality, hackers have already figured out how to find “hidden” phones provided bluetooth is enabled.

Are you a smartphone zombie?

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