Am I Feeling Vulnerable?

I usually don’t respond to my own Provocative Question prompts, but this week I’m making an exception. Especially when Melanie, over at Sparks from a Combustible Mind, commented, “This is one question I hope YOU write an answer to, too. It’d be interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter.”

My Provocative Question post yesterday referenced Pegasus, the latest kind of spyware that can spy on almost any device and any social media networks and messaging apps without the victim having any knowledge that it’s happening.

When I first learned about Pegasus, it freaked me out that hackers could access my iPhone, monitor my keystrokes, track my location, and hijack both the microphone and camera. I use my iPhone all the time. It’s always on. It has all of my credit card information on it, my bank account information, my retirement account information, my investments information. I use it to talk and text with my kids. If some evil doer can get at all of my information and see me through my phone’s camera and hear me through the phone’s microphone, I’m in deep doo doo.

I told my wife about it and started to have a panic attack. You know what she did? She started laughing at me and said “get over yourself.” She asked, “Are you an activist, an important business executive, a high powered lawyer, a senior government official, a journalist?”

I said, “No, but I am a blogger who has been quite outspoken about….”

She held up her hand to stop me and said, “I hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but you’re a nobody. I don’t think you need to worry about anyone wasting their time trying to track your every move.”

So now I feel much more at ease about the prospect of being victimized by this spyware.

At the same time, though, I’m pretty bummed that my wife of more than 40 years thinks of me as a nobody.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #127

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

My provocative question this week stems from some disturbing articles I’ve been reading about spyware called Pegasus, which was developed by an Israeli cyberarms firm. Pegasus is spyware that can be covertly installed on mobile phones and tablets running most versions of iOS and Android. It exploits vulnerabilities on those operating systems.

According to the Washington Post and other prominent media sources, Pegasus not only enables the keystroke monitoring of all communications from a phone (texts, emails, web searches), but it also enables phone call and location tracking, as well as the ability hijack both the mobile phone’s microphone and camera, thus turning it into a constant surveillance device.

In short, Pegasus in a highly invasive tool, and can spy on almost any device and any social media networks and messaging apps. So far, it has been used by some, shall we say, unscrupulous governments to monitor smartphones belonging primarily to journalists, activists, business executives, lawyers, government officials, and perceived “enemies of the state.”

Knowing that spyware like Pegasus is out there, and that it can be used to hijack your smartphone, record your keystrokes, your voice communications, and your camera without any actions or knowledge on your part, my proactive question is…

How vulnerable do you feel about potential hacks or intrusions while using your smartphone? And if you do feel vulnerable, what steps, if any, are you taking to protect yourself and your data?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Browser Bug

2be639c5-27fa-4de9-af9e-ec041c09607b-e1573942737695.jpegDan was surfing the web the other day and came across an almost imperceptible bug in the browser he was using. It really freaked him out, so he call the tech support hot line. When the rep answered, he said, “How are you doing, Mr. Jenkins?”

That shocked Dan out. “How do you know my name?” he asked.

“We at Shell Technologies pride ourselves on knowing our customers,” he said. “I see you live in our fair city and that you’re calling us from one of our smartphones.”

“Wait, what?” Dan said. “How could you know that?”

“It’s based upon your IP address,” the guy said. “Plus, we have an algorithm at Shell Technologies that has a very sophisticated prediction functionality, and based upon your past behaviors and purchases, we predicted that you are not only using our browser on one of our laptop, but you’re also using one of our smartphones. Plus, we have all of your product registrations in our database. I want to laud you for your excellent purchasing choices.”

“Listen, I’m calling you because I discovered a bug in your browser software,” Dan said. “I think it’s a serious vulnerability that might permit the capability for bad actors to install spyware.”

“Congratulations, Dan,” the guy said. “May I call you Dan?” Before Dan could answer, the guy continued. “You clearly have demonstrated some serious technology chops to have uncovered that. Since you live here in the city, I want to invite you to come to our campus so we can discuss what you’ve uncovered. We’ll send a car to pick you up. We have your address and will be there in five minutes. Bring your laptop.”

Dan didn’t know whether to be worried or excited. The limo arrived precisely five minutes later and Dan was driven to the Shell Technologies campus. When they arrived, the driver said, “Follow the path to the main building. Our representative will meet you in the lobby.”

Dan got out of the limo and headed down the path toward the main building. He met the tech rep he had spoken with on the phone. “Thank you, Dan,” the guy said, shaking Dan’s hand, “for discovering the bug in our browser. But let me assure you, Mr. Jenkins, that it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”

Dan was never seen again.


Written for these daily prompts: Daily Addictions (surfing), Ragtag Daily Prompts (imperceptible), Word of the Day Challenge (prediction), Your Daily Word Prompt (laud), The Daily Spur (path), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (lobby). Image credit: OMKDrawing at DeviantArt.com.