Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Privacy will become rarer than gold

Yesterday, Saturday July 2nd, happened to be one of those two or three dates of the year that I always spend at home. Of late, I have been thinking a lot about our privacy in general and how it is gradually being trampled in all sorts of ways.
A spate of recent events, like the leaking of Radia tapes, the alleged bugging of the Finance Minister's office and the tie up between Chinese telecom firm Huawei and Indian Institute of Science (IIS) Bangalore, have sparked off a debate on breach of privacy, software bugs and snooping by foreign intelligence agencies.
The seriousness of the issue can be gauged from the fact that the government is already contemplating setting up facilities to test devices for bugs and spy ware and also set up a new set of security protocols in India for vendors.
We live in a society where we have machines scanning us in the airports, cameras and closer circuit TVs monitoring us public places – even the swimming pools areas in some star hotels, hacking and phising of computers and mail IDs, eye-in-the-sky satellites and now the proliferation of countless cheap spy ware gadgets and gizmos for anyone to pick up.
I wonder – as barriers crumble - does individual privacy exist any more in this techno era!
If you are thinking that it is only the high and the mighty who are likely to face breach of privacy issues, you are wide of the mark. The common man can also be an easy unsuspecting victim. Cheap devices and numerous software to spy on others are now available in the market dime a dozen. Armed with these, it is a child's play for the neighbourhood peeping Toms and nosey Parkers to breach and wreck havoc with your privacy.
My recent visit to Delhi was an eye-opener. I met a person vending the latest snooping devices and software. It was a sneak peak into an amazing world of technology in action. I was amazed to see how one could become a James Bond by spending a few thousand rupees.
I was introduced to a stealth software that takes just a few minutes to be loaded into a smart phone. It works on most of the branded smart phones and cannot be detected. Once loaded, a target number is punched in. This enslaves the mobile phone loaded with the spy software to the one whose target number is fed in becomes the master phone. All conversations, messages that take place can be heard from the master phone.
Not just that, a feature allows conversations to be recorded and automatically mailed to a pre-assigned mail address. Changing the SIM card makes life no different, the target phone gets an alert of the new SIM number and the show goes on.
Another
Trojan feature that the master phone is that it can hear all the conversations that take place in and around the slave phone. All that has to be done is to dial the slave phone number and that phone is silently activated without causing any ring or any kind of alert.
There were numerous other devices I saw that were selling like hot cakes. Some of them flaunt features that can be very unnerving. Technological progress is giving our society enough barrier to give our privacy a decent burial. Individual privacy, in the days to come, shall be rarer than gold.
Welcome to the technosphere!
Think twenty times before you accept a costly mobile phone gifted to you from someone. The other way is to spend more time learning about formatting SIMs and hard drives - become tech-savvy to protect your privacy.
ess bee

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