A newly discovered strain of Android malware contains never-seen surveillance features

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/17/hacking-team-2-0.html

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So, basically, a cell phone is a personal tracking device that we gleefully carry with us all the time, isn´t it?

Time to buy artisanal tinfoil hats.


OK, so how do we see if we’ve got it? And, if we do, how do we get rid of it?


and, how does it get on our phones?


Yup, the smartphone (JeeJah) is every bit the security nightmare we all knew it would be from the very beginning.

Anybody willing to give their phone up? Yeah, me neither.


I gather that you’ve read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

Synchronicity: I posted another Anathem reference about an hour ago:


I just happen to be listening to the audio book. (again) I was wondering who might catch that reference.

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The first time I read Anathem, I said to myself, “Huh, that’s interesting – but it somehow doesn’t feel like a Neal Stephenson novel.”

On second reading, I realized the underlying dynamic beneath my first reaction: Anathem has almost no obscenity (and what it does have is mild and sparse). No use whatever of f_ck and sh_t and their ilk, so richly larded in other Stephenson novels. As a consequence, I think of Anathem as a young adult novel for exceptionally bright young adults (and for adults proper, as well).

If you put the tinfoil hat on the phone, it might actually help.



Tested…success! Well, kind of…


Funny but it wasn’t until this time through that I had given any thought
that it could be a YA novel. It would have to be a pretty singular kid
though as even Neal’s lighter weight stories such as Zodiac are dense

I’m curious how many of the philosophical discussions are based on our
world’s philosophy and how many come purely from his mind.

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I gave up my smart phone about six years ago. No regrets. I don’t think I’d even have a dumb cell phone if my wife would let me give it up. Most days, I just leave it in the car for emergencies. Some days I forget to turn it on.

The only reason I even tried a smart phone is that I work for a company that makes them.

Cell phones are expensive to buy and expensive to use. They don’t last very long. They are dangerously distracting and often have a negative effect on social situations. They are probably the least reliable tech device I’ve ever used. They are ergonomically and environmentally disastrous. I loathe touch screens. Voice quality is abysmal. I live in Silicon Valley but can’t get a reliable cell signal at my home. There’s no option to block Caller ID by default (as with landlines). They are additional channels for voice and text spam and scams (far, far, far more than I’ve ever experienced on our landline). They’re bad for privacy. Your OS vendor thinks they’re entitled to all sorts of personal behavioral information about how you use the device you purchased. Oh, yeah, and your carrier wants all that personal data, too.
Most of them are terrible as cameras and they are responsible for the scourge of vertical video.

I have utterly no idea how so many people got hooked. For me, they are an absolute non-starter. I never would have guessed that cell phones would have caught on like this. I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe where common sense doesn’t apply. How in the world did we get here? It’s just unfathomable.

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I know [rand name]. I can’t believe I made [dollar amount] working from [location] adding this non-suspicious code to existing app packages and submitting them to [app ecosystem].

Like this one [unsuspicious link].

There were no social consequences. It’s so easy.

[!–Comment. Warning. Mute all sound. Each instance of A.I. bot will sigh out loud and say “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to post this on blogs. Call that job satisfaction? Becauses I don’t.” --]


I’d be happy to get rid of that pesky “phone” app and just use it as what
it really is, the pocket computer.


Thats how I use mine. I even have a dumb phone as an actual phone. Still google know way too much about my private life from location ‘services’ and because of their walled garden app store.

Also, even though there’s no sim inside you can still call 911, so the cell towers probably still know where you are. I put it in airplane mode, but as soon as you accidentally swipe the display when the phone is locked (in a certain way that mysteriously happens in coat pockets) you get to ‘emergency call’ mode and airplane mode is turned off.

I’d like an actual pocket computer with the phone radio just left out completely. Like a raspberry pi but with the fancy screen and small packaging.


It would have to be a pretty singular kid (to read Anathem).

The character Barb (aka Fraa Tavener) comes to mind.

I’m curious how many of the philosophical discussions are based on our
world’s philosophy and how many come purely from his mind.

See Stephen’s “Anathem Acknowledgements” page:


I recall only one specific Earth philosopher in the novel: Edmund Husserl, the phenomenologist-intentionalist, who is initially portrayed as “Saunt Atamant”.

The Acknowledgements page expands on Husserl’s philosophy.

The “Saunt Atamant” page at Anathem Wikia page says:

Saunt Atamant is the name Zh’vaern gave to Edmund Husserl when retelling the story of his copper ashtray at the Plurality of Worlds Messal. Atamant is described as and introspectionist who spent the last 30 years of his life staring into a copper bowl.

Zh’vaern presents Husserl’s argument against scientism as an argument against the Procian understanding of consciousness as something describable by theoric discourse. Consciousness, Atamant/Husserl says, cannot be understood as another object within the theory of the polycosmos because it is only through the power of consciousness to confer thisness on objects that theoric statements are possible. Thus, we need to posit consiousness as a separate entity above and beyond the physical equipment (brains and bodies) through which consciousness is enacted in the physical world.

I am so glad I bought a Windows Phone. It continues to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Maybe take out the battery when not using it? For iphone users: move along, nothing to see here.

So, naturally, most of those that do have them make them absolutely indispensable.