If you ever needed evidence that mobile telcos (MNOs) are moving their business focus from telephones to data, then look no further than a recent post on Three’s blog. Phil Sheppard, the company’s Director of Network Strategy, revealed that 97% of the traffic flowing through Three‘s network was data. Only 3% was voice.
Also staggering was the growth in smartphone data use which grew 427% in 14 months. Yes, over 400% in slightly more than a year. It’s clear that in the last year, lots of people have upgraded to smartphones and are now actively using them online. There’s probably a combination of reasons for the explosion but the wider choice of handset models at a range of price points will be the main reason.
Three has always paid attention to data, being the first mobile company to offer 3G in the UK back in 2003, but with figures like this, it would be a fair assumption that every mobile telco is now shifting more data than voice traffic and that means these companies are more like mobile ISPs (Internet Service Providers) than phone companies. Whenever you hear an announcement by one of these companies, think about it in these terms.
As the fall-out from the News of the World scandal continues, many sources continue to inaccurately refer to “mobile phone hacking”. The truth (as far as is known) was that it was the voicemail of the mobile phone that was hacked rather than the phone itself. There are two ways to do this – the first is to simply guess the PIN of the voicemail and the second is to use Caller ID spoofing.
In the mid-2000s, most mobile phone voicemail systems were poorly protected as they typically came with a default PIN which was often easily guessed and only varied according to the mobile phone company. Most users didn’t bother to change the PIN. Say the phone was on Orange, then the default PIN was 1234. If it was Vodafone, then 0000. Typically, the villain then makes two simultaneous calls to the victim. One will be picked up, the other will go to voicemail. By then pressing “*” or “#” while listening to the voicemail prompts, the individual can gain access to the voicemail system using the default PIN. Computeractive has article covering this scenario and how, in theory, it would be harder (but not impossible) to take this approach today.
As for Caller ID spoofing, this technique makes a call look like it’s coming from a different number than it actually is. It can be used legally to make someone calling from a mobile to actually appear to be coming from a company office, so that the person’s mobile number is not divulged. However, in some instances it has been used to gain access to voicemail boxes as many voicemail systems do not ask for further identification if the system recognises the inbound Caller ID as one of its own. PC Mag and c|net have short articles on how this is done and worryingly, this is still a threat. The Wall Street Journal covered the problem in 2010 before the current scandal broke.
It would appear that the best protection to both these attacks is (a) to change your PIN on your voicemail and (b) require your PIN even when calling from your own mobile phone. That way, even if your Caller ID is spoofed, the caller can’t get in without knowing your PIN.
tXt Blocker is a great product for any parent who have teenagers who like to text while driving. tXt Blocker has two parts first is administrative end which is on the web, the second part is an application which is downloaded to the phone. The parent or supervisor then goes into the administrative zone on the web site and sets up the rules. They can include things such as no texting while the car is moving. No texting in a certain geographic area, such as a school or church.
The system uses the internal GPS and cell phone tower triangulation to determine where the phone is and how fast it is moving. If the phone receives a text while the phone is in motion, or a blocked zone that message is sent to the phones database until the phone has reached a “safe state”. If a call comes into the phone, while it is moving or in a zone that is blocked the call goes to the voice mail, which informs the caller that the person is driving and can’t answer their call at this time. The administrator can set up a safe-list which allows calls from certain people to get through. 911 calls are automatically on the safe list.
The system is currently available for 6.99 a month for an individual and 9.99 a month for a family plan and it works on Blackberry, Android and is coming later this year to both iPhone and Windows Phone 7 Mobile. There is a customizable option for business available. tXt Blocker is available at Best Buy through the tXt Blocker Website
Aaron Cooper of Worth Avenue Group (my.worthavegroup.com) talks about the insurance coverage they provide for iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, Cell Phones, e-readers, televisions, laptops, tablets and other high-value electronic devices. With so many high-value portable and other electronics devices, many with glass touch screens screens, insuring these devices can make sense. Their computer insurance even covers virus removal. They require that damaged covered devices be sent in to them.
As smartphones get more powerful with more storage, the possibility of losing something important when your phone is misplaced or stolen, gets ever greater. And it’s not really business documents that are important, it’s your photos that are really irreplaceable.
Iomega‘s new SuperHero Backup and Charger for iPhone and iPod Touch can help with this problem. It’s a charging cradle that also backups up contacts and photos to the included 4GB SD card (which can be upgraded by the user, if needed). An Iomega backup and restore application is available from the iTunes store. It’s especially useful for those people who never sync their iPhone to their Mac.
O2 in the UK has a launched a web-based live mobile network status checker. It allows you to check the status of its mobile network in your area by simply putting in the post code. The page will then tell you what’s going on in the network nearby and if it’s likely to affect your calls.
Here are two different results for postcodes near me right now.
At the same time, O2 has also upgraded their network coverage map. It’s now interactive with full street and satellite views from Bing. It’s also pretty honest – for my post code it says that mobile broadband won’t be good and my experience would bear that out.
As an O2 customer, both of these will be handy tools but the live network status checker will be particularly useful for seeing if there’s a known problem before I pick up the phone to the call centre.
Back in the saddle from the new location and new studio. A great show where I catch you up on the move and all of the exciting things that have been happening here.
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