I'm always a bit shocked when I hear people saying that “Google and others track you anyway on your smartphone and there is nothing that can be done about it”. I sense a certain frustration not only on the side of the person who's made the statement. But I obviously beg to differ. As this comes up quite frequently I decided to put together a blog post that I can then refer to with the things that I do on my Android based device to keep my private data as private as possible.
The Three Cornerstones to Privacy
In essence, my efforts to keep my private data private is based on three cornerstones:
- As few apps on the device as possible that communicate with servers on the Internet without my consent.
- Allowing access to private information such as location, calendar entries, the address book, etc. to specific apps while blocking access for all others by default.
- Preventing communication of apps with servers on the Internet that I would like to use. Amazon's Kindle reader app is a prime example. It's a good app for reading books but if left on it's own it's far too chatty for my taste.
In some cases, implementing these cornerstones in practice is straight forward while other things require a more technical approach. The rest of this blog entry now looks at how I implement these cornerstones in practice.
In a previous post I've described my results of tracing an A-GPS SUPL request from my mobile device to the Google GPS location service and the issues I've discovered. In this follow-up post I thought I'd give an overview of how to setup up an environment that allows to trace and decode the conversation.
One train of thought I followed with my easy smartphone Wi-Fi tracing setup I wrote about recently is how often a typical smartphone contacts the network per hour even if it is not used and just lies on the table and what impact that has on the cellular network in a larger context. Even though … Continue reading My Smartphone Contacts The Network 10 Times Per Hour When Its Idle
Since having arrived in Italy I’ve enjoyed using UMTS and HSDPA networks to connect to the Internet for my day to day work for reasonable prices. It has also allowed me to run a number of network traces to get some more insight into the performance of the UMTS and HSDPA air interface. In the … Continue reading Using Wireshark to Peek Into the UMTS Air Interface
Over the past couple of days I’ve experienced some problems with large file downloads over Wifi. Regularly, download speeds decreased to almost zero for a couple of seconds before recovering. Today I found the culprit: My new Bluetooth USB stick in combination with the Nokia PC suite. The 100 mW Bluetooth stick I bought a … Continue reading 100mW Bluetooth Stick Wreaks Havoc on My Wifi Network