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The Bots Are Here and Growing.

Can You Trust Your Apps?


Almost everyone has a ‘smart phone’ these days, just chock full of apps and bots.  Did you know the definition of a ‘bot’ before tech took over? A bot is the larva of the botfly, which is an internal parasite of animals.  Are your smart phone and smart appliance bots internal parasites too?  Are they feeding off you, passing information to unknown sources?  How can you tell?

 

We all download new apps, try them, discard them and move on.  But how can you tell if the app you just removed from your phone didn’t leave a bit of itself in the root files that could be remotely re-activated.  We have all seen the TV shows where your phone can be turned on remotely without you knowing it.  When you turn off your phone, unless you remove the battery, is it really OFF?

 

Smartphones actually have two computers in them: a baseband processor (the "phone" part that deals with radio waves) and the operating-system processor, which runs iOS, Android or Windows Phone and controls apps and the rest of what you see on the phone's screen. When you use your phone, you're interacting with the operating system, not the baseband.  When you power your phone off, you're shutting down the operating system. But are you turning the baseband processor off as well?  How can you really tell?  Who can you really trust?

 

Now we also have Amazon Echo and Google Home; devices that are constantly listening to everything you utter in your home.  You can ‘wake them’ by calling their name, sure; but they are Always listening.  Since they are also connected to the Internet, needed to function, how can you be sure someone else isn’t listening?  It doesn’t have to be a person, voice recognition that is built in can facilitate any search algorithms on keyword or phrase.  How do you KNOW that your music selections, tv shows and other information aren’t being forwarded to unknown sources?  With Amazon’s Fire TV, Alexa is imbedded so Amazon can know what you are watching on Netflix, YouTube and the rest of your streaming activity.  Is the NSA also watching and listening?

 

We already KNOW that the NSA and government agencies monitor all cell phones, only capturing the meta-data they say.  But is that all?  Doubtful and with all the recent ‘leaking’ going on and corruption and malfeasance in government, I for one, sure as hell don’t trust them!

 

By monitoring your power use, utilities get to know rather more about your household routines than you'd like them to. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can learn from simple wattage measurements. Each appliance in your house causes a telltale fluctuation in power, and apps can analyze the output of to see how often you run what appliance—useful self-knowledge for those of us looking for ways to conserve energy. Imagine what marketers (let alone burglars) would pay for that information.

 

So, we must weigh the cost/benefit just like any other activity, resource or task.  Do the benefits outweigh the potential exposure to your every word in your house?  Can these devices be hacked to let criminals know when you aren’t at home? 

 

Most of us just ‘trust’ the app.  We Must trust the provider because we have no option.  Who is monitoring for your safety/security.  Peer Reviews are great but can they be fooled by smart purveyors of ‘neat shit’ apps that become the latest fad.  It doesn’t seem to bother most folks.  They constantly are posting everything they do, eat and see online.  Social Media can pretty much track everything a lot of people do, monitor their diet as they post pictures of their meals, track their location (most apps have location sensing based on your phone GPS) with every post.  Take a picture and the meta data has the location as well as all sorts of other information.

 

For the most part, everyday people doing everyday things aren’t really that important.  No offense!  I know I’ve accepted the openness of today’s Society and welcome it as it exposes more of the corruption, malfeasance and crime around us.  Now if we can just learn to control the negative impulses of greedy, criminal (and usually bureaucratic) corrupt politicians from abusing Our Information.

 

While ‘big brother’ is watching us, WE The People need to be aware and monitor them, the observers.  Smart apps can work both ways if they are well designed.  We need to be aware of the risks but also the rewards.  We need to help each other and Expose the criminal acts, malfeasance and corruption wherever it occurs.  We have the POWER in our hands.  Take a video, capture the audio; it is happening all around us and for the better.  The monitoring Can Work Both Ways!


Let’s now start watching the watchers!