Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hacking Just Got Starry-eyed, Be Careful, Or You Could Be Next!

If someone told you that you were going to live on a desert island, what three things would you take with you? I'm almost certain, you would choose your phone and its charger as two of the three items. We all become attached to our mobile phone, let's face it, it's the truth! You think your privacy is safe? Trust me, it’s going in one ear, and out the other. Think about the celebrities we know and love. The first thing that came to mind was the recent scandal caused by British tabloid newspaper: News Of The World (NOTW).

A tabloid that sat on our shelves for 168 year, its publisher was the News International, a news corporation owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The tabloid was forced to shutdown, as allegations were made against the staff who hired private investigators to hack thousands of mobile phones of murder victims, including Milly Dowler, a teenage girl from the U.K, who was registered missing nine years ago.

NOTW was laid to rest, after 168 years of publishing news to over 7.5M readers. The company published its final issue on July 10, 2011. The front page read: "Thank you & Goodbye". Here are some of the many thousands of celebrities whose privacy have been violated by Murdoch’s News Corp. According to International Business Times, the following celebrities are the victims of the phone-hacking scandal:

•    Sky Andrew – former Olympic and Commonwealth games. In addition to being the first black sports agent.
•    Jude Law – actor
•    Hugh Grant – actor
•    Gordon Brown – ex Prime Minister for the U.K.
•    Chris Brynt – MP for the British Labour party.
•    The Royal Family

I won’t have time to mention the thousands of other celebrities that were cornered by the newspaper. As you would expect, the scandal killed its reputation. Many important people from The International News Corporation, Scotland Yard, MPs, and Metropolitan Police resigned from their position.

On Sunday, August 17, according to British broadsheet newspaper The Guardian, former chief executive of The International News Corp, Rebekah Brooks was arrested. Brooks claims she did not have any knowledge of the phone hacking.

How do we prevent this from happening? In my opinion, it can’t really be stopped. Superman is not coming to the rescue this time! Technology advances each and every day of our lives. A new device, or program creeps up from behind us that gives us another thing to worry about.

PCWorld magazine reports, a victim of the phone hacking scandal former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, strictly requested a private investigation to take place.  You’d think since we’re living in such a tech-advanced world, we’d have security down by now.

If you want to stay safe, add a PIN to everything. Once you have a PIN activated, there’s nothing to worry about, right?. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as everything can be hacked, if you try hard enough. For example, most of the victims’ mobile phone voicemail, required a PIN to access information. Nevertheless, that was hacked too, with private investigators watching like a hawk.

Thanks once again to PCWorld magazine, for providing us with the advice, we need to stop hacking. It might leave some people disappointed, but here's what you need to do. Don’t use the one thing, we rely on to take our messages. Ask your network provider to turn voicemail off. If you need to be reached, encourage your callers to use SMS or e-mail. We live in a smartphone world. Take advantage of it. Voicemail is old school!

If you insist on having voicemail on, then this paragraph is for you. Set a default PIN, yes, I know we talked about PINs, and it not being completely secure, but wait like a magician, I’m about to pull out a magic trick that’ll keep you worry free. If you change your PIN regularly, then you’ll keep the hackers guessing. Sooner or later, they’ll give up.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying SMS and e-mail is the safest option to keep the hackers away. If you’re using a smartphone, I could be stating the obvious, but whatever you do, don’t download apps from unknown publishers.

These apps can be the easiest way to access your data, according to PCworld magazine. One final thing, always update your phone with the latest software updates, these updates provide the tools to keep your phone out of harm’s way.

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