Data Privacy and Security - Problems and Solutions

Infrastructure

Data security is a serious issue. Hackers (and the government organisations) can be found everywhere waiting for you to make a mistake. The Equifax data breach, one of the biggest data breaches of all time, was an eye-opener for many of the users who still didn't believe that such an event could actually occur. So in this article, we are going to go through some of the areas which need our attention and some potential solutions.


PROBLEMS AND ISSUES 

  • Bugging - Bugging is the act of concealing recording devices in order to eavesdrop. Quite surprising, it has been in the trend since WWII. The only difference is that catching an eavesdropper is apparently not so easy these days.
  • Think about this situation - you're having a confidential meeting, millions, if not billions, of dollars are on the stake and you are, quite obviously, afraid that the conversation might be recorded. And it's nearly impossible to stop someone from recording by simply checking physically - I mean, recording devices can be notoriously hard to find, forget about detecting with the naked eyes. Even sparing your smartphone, which can well act as a recorder, a recording device can come in a number of different guises - a hat, button, belt, specs, pen or even a keychain, to name a few.
  • Location tracking - There are many irritating aspects of having a GPS installed in your vehicle. Say, you're Wade, the best delivery man around the town who is entitled to deliver a week's worth of deliveries. And in midst of all these, you also have to get your lunch. But one thing that you hate even more than your grumpy boss is the bland food of Goofy's Shack - you would really love that cheese dog from McDonald's across the town. But only if your spying supervisor would allow you to... The same goes for Bob, the sales guy. He gets in the company car, drives it for half an hour through the traffic only to find that he forgot a crucial file at the home. So, what should he do? Reach office and face the manager without that file or go home, pick that file up and try to justify himself as they can monitor his GPS location? Is there a third option? Yes, there is!
  • Phone tracking - Lack of cyber privacy is a huge issue of the 21st century. Everyone is trying to track you and get a hold of your personal data. No matter if it's an app in your smartphone or simply the GPS device that you're carrying in your minivan.
  • Tracking one's exact position with the help of the mobile towers have been pretty widespread. Everyone does it - the police, the hackers, even your peeping, over-enthusiastic neighbour. They only need the location data of three of the closest signal towers and it would give them the location information of your phone, regardless of whether your phone actually has a GPS component in it or not.


SOME NUMBERS

Okay, let's crunch some numbers. A survey done by the Wall Street Journal (December 2010) revealed some pretty scary results. They found that an alarming part of the 101 screened applications for both the Android and iPhone were sharing the location data of the user with either the vendor or some third party. And next to no information was provided regarding where the data was being sent or why it was needed in the first place.

Let's come to the navigation systems. Surveys suggest that although the need and popularity of singular use PND (Portable Navigation Devices) has decreased significantly in recent years, nearly 20 million units are still sold globally around the year. Even though it's pretty lower than what it used to be a decade ago, still a significant number of the drivers use some form of GPS.

And pertaining to the information mentioned earlier, the event of data breaches has been soaring since the start of the century and it's estimated that the number of major data breaches has crossed 600 by 2018. It's also believed that the motivation behind most of the cases is data stealing. It's also estimated that on an average 600+ events of snooping and data theft are recorded only in the US annually.


SOLUTIONS

  • Protection against bugging - It turns out that an audio jammer is probably the most common and viable solution to bugging and eavesdropping. Let's go back to that meeting we were in a few minutes back. If you can't possibly stop a peeping tom from bringing in a listening device, what else can be done then? Hint: If one can not do anything about the recorder, why not do something about the recording instead?
    And yes, that's exactly what an audio jammer does. It emits masking signal that desensitises the recording equipment and ruins the recorded audio quality. And the good news is that if done carefully, it is notoriously hard to recover the original signal (the recorded audio), if not impossible. Most of the jammers use the white noise in order to distort the recording. Audio jammers are effective against any sort of recording device including standard and shotgun microphones, RF transmitters and tape recorders.
  • Protection against GPS monitoring - So, what is that mystical third option? It has to be a jammer, duh. Get yourself a GPS jammer, plug it in and poof! You're invisible from the eyes of the GPS satellites. Most of the GPS jammers are as small as a cigarette lighter and despite their size, can easily cover even the biggest of the cars.
    Keeping the civilian use aside, they are also used by the military and intelligence agencies. GPS jammers are used to cloak the location of a vehicle from the enemy's GPS satellites and to confuse the opposition regarding the position of their GPS guided projectiles.
  • Blocking cell phone activity - The need for blocking the cell phone signal might arise in many situations. Think about the operation chamber of a hospital. Tons of equipment in a medical facility depends on the electromagnetic waves. Other than that, there are many places where mobile activity is not desired such as a church, library or conference room.
    The mobile signal jammers can be classified into a number of categories according to the type of signal they block. For example, one type of jammer might be built for blocking GSM transmission while the second type might be best employed for jamming 3G signal. Although some high-end model is able to block different bands of transmission, they tend to be considerably costlier. More on that in the next article.
  • Counter terrorism measures - By far one of the most important and critical uses of the signal jammers is to enforce the law and fight terrorism. It's no wonder that the jammers used to be prominently used in the WWII era for jamming radar and blocking foreign radio signals.
    These days jammers are mostly used by the law enforcement officers and military to intercept terrorist communication and safely defuse remote explosives.
    The jammers radiate a strong signal that lies in the same range in which the receiver component of a cell phone or an explosive communicates with the remote control center Given its importance in suppressing criminal activities, it has been used for the safety of famous and popular hot-shots for years.



    Hungry for more? Want to know more about the jammers? The next one is going to cover the ins and outs of a jammer in much more detail. Till then stay tuned.