“We all carry a smartphone, we carry a tablet, we carry mobile devices and they’re in our hands wherever we go. I want you to stop and think about that, it has two cameras on it, it has two microphones, it has GPS, it has my e-mail, it has near-field detectors that can detect not only where I am, but who I’m sitting close to,” said David Perry, threat analyst at F-Secure.
Mobile privacy and security have been hot-button topics in the post-Edward Snowden/NSA era. According to a Pew Research study, 91% of adults agree that consumers have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by companies. A similar study found that in 2013, 18% of Americans had import information stolen online, a 7% increase from 2012.
“Your privacy is vulnerable in a couple of different ways, I’m connecting to local nonsecured Wi-Fi connections so amateur hackers can detect me there. The apps on my phone are gathering information about me and selling it. The social networks are gathering information, the search engines I use are gathering information and the phone itself is gathering information,” Perry said.
F-Secure has developed “Freedome,” which it said is an online privacy solution that promises to make phones invisible, untraceable and anonymous. A couple of the features include the ability to mask the phone’s IP address, allowing consumers to surf the Web anonymously, and creating a secure encrypted connection, making data unreadable.
Another mobile privacy company, iPatch case, was founded after TV producer Mike Sorrentino grew tired of covering a disturbing trend.
“I was constantly being assigned to stories where laptops were being hacked into through webcams. It wasn’t government officials or celebrities, one particular story was kids in school in Pennsylvania, some creepy IT guy was hacking into their laptops at home,” said Sorrentino, creator of the iPatch case.
The iPatch case looks like a regular iPhone case, but it features a switch that allows consumers to block both the front and back cameras. In a high-tech world the key component of the case may seem surprising.
“That’s why I figured what’s one thing you can’t hack, and that’s simply a piece of plastic,” said Sorrentino.