Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is Your Cell Phone Giving Away Your Secrets?

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #70 - May 11, 2009 - Issue #378

 Is Your Cell Phone Giving Away Your Secrets?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is Your Cell Phone Giving Away Your Secrets?
    • New Forums for Reader Feedback
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Your XP computer may not be able to run Windows 7 XP Mode
    • IBM claims Excel corrupts OpenDocument Spreadsheets
    • Microsoft denies special version of XP for the USAF
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to make XP look and act like Windows 7
  5. XP Security News
    • What are the security implications of Windows 7 XP Mode?
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Windows 7 RC "not free?"
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Disk Defrag doesn't work
    • Hibernate button doesn't appear when you click "Turn off Computer" on Start menu
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Protect Your Privacy With Ultimate Cookie Manager™

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

 Editor's Corner

Is Your Cell Phone Giving Away Your Secrets?

Mobile phones have given us more freedom; we no longer have to stay close by a fixed landline when waiting for an important call. They've also given many people a sense of greater security; if your car breaks down or someone seems to be following you, you can call for help. But there's another, darker side to the security issue. Whether you have a fancy smart phone that's really a full-fledged hand-held computer or just the cheapie model that your cell phone carriers provides at no extra charge, the cell phone that you take with you everywhere you go could be posing a threat to your privacy. This YouTube video titled Tapping Your Cell Phone shows how a savvy attacker can use your phone to harass you - even after you change your number, track where you are at any time, or even listen in on what you're doing when you aren't even on the phone.

Most people know that cell phone calls are really radio transmissions, and since they go out over the airwaves, they can be intercepted. Several years back, it wasn't uncommon for people with old style police scanners to pick up conversations that were occurring on analog phones in the 824.040 to 848.970 MHz range. It's now illegal to sell scanners that pick up cellular frequencies but many people still have them from the days when they were legal, and you can buy them now in many other countries.

Luckily, intercepting digital phone signals is more difficult. However, there are software packages you can buy that will let you listen in on mobile phones that have Bluetooth enabled (you can also use it to read text messages), and the software doesn't have to be installed on the phone that's being spied on. These programs are marketed as tools to check up on your children's behavior, catch cheating spouses, find out if employees are misbehaving on the job, and so forth. Of course, they can be bought and used by anyone to spy on anyone else for any reason. And a really motivated eavesdropper who's willing to invest in a few thousand dollars' worth of equipment may be able to break GSM (GPRS/Edge) algorithms and reconstruct conversations.

What about the sensitive data you carry with you on your phone? Many of us have contacts, email, and even documents stored on our phones. With many sophisticated smart phones, you can encrypt both the data stored in the phone's internal memory and data on the flash card you have inserted in the phone. If you have a Windows Mobile device that you use to connect to an Exchange 2007 Server, you (or your Exchange administrator) can send a command to the phone that will perform a remote wipe (delete all Exchange information stored on it). The 3G version of the iPhone also supports this feature. This comes in handy if your phone is lost or stolen. Some phones can also be set to automatically wipe the local data if the incorrect password is entered a certain number of times.

Speaking of password protection, do you habitually lock your phone when you aren't using it? If so, do you think that will prevent someone else from being able to use it? Keep in mind that most phones allow incoming calls to be answered even when the phone is locked. Once upon a time, IT departments routinely used callback to verify the identity of users, but that can't be relied upon now that mobile phones are in the picture.

Another important thing to remember is that your smart phone works much like a desktop PC in many ways. One of those is the fact that deleting a file may not truly erase that data at all, but just remove the markers so that area in storage is available to be written to. Until new data is written over it, it's still possible for someone with the right software to retrieve the "deleted" data.

Perhaps the scariest part of the video referenced at the beginning of this article is the idea that someone can activate the microphone on your cell phone from a distant location and listen to whatever you and those around you are saying - even though there is no active phone connection. And anyone who has watched modern thriller movies is probably aware that the GPS signals built into many cell phones can be tracked to show your every move. In fact, that technology is marketed to parents, to keep up with their children; the software can be installed on many RIM Blackberry phones, Windows Mobile phones, Android phones and others. You may also have to pay a monthly fee for the tracking service.

The only reliable way to be sure your GPS can't be tracked or your microphone can't be activated is to deactivate the phone completely. Some smart phones have a button to turn the screen off, but the phone itself stays on. Windows Mobile, for instance, isn't designed to be shut down completely. If you press the "on/off" button, you turn the display on or off. If you hold it in for a longer time, the phone merely reboots. Turning on "Flight Mode" will turn off the phone's radios (cellular, wi-fi and Bluetooth). Or if you want to be absolutely sure you're safe, remove the battery (assuming your phone has a user-removable battery).

Of course, many people leave their phones turned on and charging overnight. This provides an opportunity for attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities of an active phone; all they need to know is your mobile phone number, which you might have printed on your business card or even listed in your Facebook profile. Here's a demonstration of how it can be done:

Have you ever considered your cell phone a security threat? Do you leave it turned on when you're in a meeting or talking to a friend over lunch? Do you encrypt the data on your phone? Do you make sure Bluetooth stays turned off when you aren't using it, to prevent exploit? Let us know your opinions and experiences on this topic. Write to feedback@wxpnews.com

New Forums for Reader Feedback

In the past, we've printed a sampling each week of the reader responses to the previous week's editorial - but due to the length of the newsletter, we're never able to print more than a small handful of the responses we get. Now the good folks at Sunbelt have created WXPNews Forums, where you can post your responses, as well as questions about Windows and even Linux, Mac and iPhone/iPods. This way, you'll be able to see more of the input from other readers, and you'll also be able to interact with them and respond to them directly. Check it out at

Meanwhile, you're still welcome to send email responses if you prefer, and I will continue to read and respond to as many as I can. But since we often get a huge volume of mail, if you have a specific question that you need answered or a statement that you want to get out to the entire readership, you might want to post it on the forums.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look up the WXPnews Fan Page and join us on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys. - Chief engineer of the British post office, 1876.

The Internet is a telephone system that's gotten uppity. - Clifford Stoll

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Never reinstall your XP again - New technology: no set-up, no loss of data or applications. The ultimate professional repair tool. Free PC booster with every scan, get it now!

I need a REAL program for autofilling my passwords and shipping info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

If you have any iPod/iPhone device, this software is a 'must have' utility to keep your iPod/iPhone safe. Download the free trial version here.

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Turn your webcam into a CCTV with alarm and email notification! Try it before you buy it:

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Vista gets bogged down very quickly! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

Backups? GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

Print Screen Deluxe is the realistic upgrade of the Windows version. You can crop - before the capture! Very quick!

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Your XP computer may not be able to run Windows 7 XP Mode

There's been a lot of excitement generated about a new feature for Windows 7: XP Mode, or the ability to run Windows XP in a virtual machine on top of Windows 7, seamlessly integrated into the interface of the new OS. That will allow you to have all the advantages of Windows 7 without giving up your older applications that require XP. If you're buying a new PC for Win7 or you're upgrading a fairly recent one, all's good. However, PC Magazine warns that many older systems don't have processors that support virtualization and thus won't be able to run XP Mode That includes older Core 2 Duos and Pentium M processors, as well as many AMD processors. Specifically, you need a processor that's Intel VT or AMD-V capable. You can find out more here:

IBM claims Excel corrupts OpenDocument Spreadsheets

Why can't we all just get along? The IBM/Microsoft feud about the Open Document Format standard rages on. Last week, IBM said Excel 2007 corrupts formulas and data in spreadsheets that were originally created in ODF in other programs. Microsoft said it's the fault of OpenOffice.org and Symphony because they use a specification that's not yet an approved standard. Read more about the argument here:

Microsoft denies special version of XP for the USAF

Last week, we linked to a story where Wired Magazine reported that Microsoft worked with the U.S. Air Force to provide them with a super secure version of Windows XP. In response, Microsoft clarified that while the USAF did get a "hardened" image of XP, it wasn't really a different version of the OS; Microsoft just used Group Policy to lock down security settings at the request of the Air Force. Anyone else can get the same "special version" if they want it. Read more here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to make XP look and act like Windows 7

No, you can't turn XP into Win7; you can't even do a direct upgrade. However, if you like the sleek look of 7 but aren't ready to start over with a new OS, you can give your XP computer much the same look, and you can also download programs that will provide some of the same functionality as new Windows 7 features.
  1. Install the Windows 7 Taskbar iconizer to make the taskbar icons look more like those in 7.
  2. Install AeroPeek and Visual Task Tips to allow you to view thumbnails of open windows and highlight the active window while making all the other windows transparent (requires .NET Framework 3.5)
  3. Install AeroSnap to make windows automatically resize to fill half the screen when dragged to the side of the monitor.
  4. Download and run AeroShake to minimize all inactive windows by shaking with your mouse.
You can find links to download all of these programs, along with screenshots and more instructions, at

 XP Security News

What are the security implications of Windows 7 XP Mode?

Amidst all the excitement surrounding the introduction of XP Mode for Windows 7, some people are asking "what about security?" Does this solution put compatibility ahead of security? Right now there seem to be a lot of questions and no hard answers, but you can see what some of the concerns are in this eWeek article:

 XP Question Corner

Windows 7 RC "not free?"


This is incorrect. You do not have to use ISOBuster. There are numerous programs that will burn and/or mount ISO image files. Some (such as Free ISO Burner, InfraRecorder, Active@ ISO Burner) are free; others (such as PowerISO) allow you a free trial or allow you to use the program free with limited functionality.



 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Disk Defrag doesn't work

If you try to defrag your hard disk with XP's Disk Defragmenter and nothing happens or you get an error message saying Windows cannot connect to the Disk Defragmenter engine, it may be because Disk Defragmenter isn't installed on the computer. Luckily, you can install it from a file in the Windows\Inf folder. For instructions on how to do so, see KB article 922379 at

Hibernate button doesn't appear when you click "Turn off Computer" on Start menu

If you click Turn Off Computer on the Start menu of a Windows XP Service Pack 2 or 3 computer, and there is no Hibernate button even though you have enabled hibernation on the computer, be aware that this is normal, but it's very simple to get the Hibernate option to appear by simply pressing the SHIFT key after clicking Turn Off Computer. However, if you don't want to have to remember to do this, there is a hotfix that will add Hibernate to the options. You can find out how to get it in KB article 893056 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

Protect Your Privacy With Ultimate Cookie Manager™

The Ultimate Cookie Manager is the only product we know of that allows you to safely scan, and delete cookies, AND allows you to save or "whitelist" the good cookies that allow you to automatically login to your favorite trusted sites. But how can you separate the good from the bad? The Ultimate Cookie Manager does it easily. Cookies can slow down your computer over time as they accumulate and leave tracks where you've been surfing. Ultimate Cookie Manager identifies and lists new generation cookies like Flash and Silverlight cookies, together with all of the standard and conventional cookies of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, K-Melon and Flock browsers. With Ultimate Cookie Manager, you can explore their contents and delete any of these cookies. Ultimate Cookie Manager permits you to block any traffic to these sites. Download the Free demo. Better yet, WXPNews readers are being offered a full 50% off the retail price so get your copy now!

 About WXPnews

What Our Lawyers Make Us Say
These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


This newsletter and website and may contain links to other websites with whom we have a business relationship. Sunbelt Software does not review or screen these sites, and we are not responsible or liable for their privacy or data security practices, or the content of these sites. Additionally, if you register with any of these sites, any information that you provide in the process of registration, such as your email address, credit card number or other personally identifiable information, will be transferred to these sites. For these reasons, you should be careful to review any privacy and data security policies posted on any of these sites before providing information to them.

The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document. This document may be copied and distributed subject to the following conditions: 1) All text must be copied without modification and all pages must be included; 2) All copies must contain Sunbelt's copyright notice and any other notices provided therein; and 3) This document may not be distributed for profit. All trademarks acknowledged. Copyright Sunbelt Software, Inc. 1996-2009.

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