New Report: Mobile Technologies Put Users’ Security at Risk
Washington – July 30, 2012–
The capability of repressive governments to monitor users of mobile phones and block access to internet content is far beyond levels realized by users and presents significant risksfor user privacy and safety, according to a new report<http://www.
- High mobile penetration rates in the studied countries—oftenabove100 percent—indicate that mobile networks are the communications method of choice, making these platforms a priority target for monitoring by repressive regimes.
- Mobile phone users are vulnerable to highly intrusive surveillance,including the remote activation of cameras and microphones and the tracking of users’ movements through global positioning systems (GPS).
- The default settings of mobile operating systems provide inadequate security, and in repressive environments, adding security options is problematic.
- Virtual private networks (VPN) are designed to facilitate corporate use but do not adequately protect individuals attempting to avoid surveillance.
Because mobile security is threatened at multiple levels—of mobile networks, operating systems, applications, handsets, and users—it isnearly impossible for any single actor in isolation to change the situation, according to the findings. The report recommends improved awareness of mobile security threats among users in repressive environments and development of mobile phone handsets, operating systems, and applications that better protect user privacy in countries where human rights violations are common.
“Every stakeholder in the process plays a role in the vulnerability of mobile technology to misuse, from the developers of the devices themselves to those who create the associated applications,” said Cormac Callanan, one of the report’s authors. “There is a real and immediate need for more cooperation and joint action between all stakeholders to improve safety and privacy for mobile users.”
Read the full report here<http://www.freedomhouse.
Freedom in the World 2012<http://www.freedomhouse.
Freedom on the Net 2011<http://www.freedomhouse.
Freedom of the Press 2012<http://www.freedomhouse.
Leaping Over the Firewall: A Review of Censorship Circumvention Tools<http://www.freedomhouse.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.