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Mobile Spyware And Why You Should Be Concerned

Technology is truly a marvel, and like many “marvels” it can be used for good and evil. Apparently, the good folks at our mobile carriers are very interested in what you do with your mobile/smart phone. Consensual Data Capture is one thing, spying…. yes spying is another. No this isn’t a three-letter government agency doing this, but our mobile carriers or literally anyone else who happens to buy the right software to access the embedded spyware.

It was bad enough that “certain” organizations were tracking Black Friday shoppers without their knowledge in malls via their mobile/smart phones, but now we are learning about a new and very disturbing revelation around the amount of data, communication, and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) mobile carriers are collecting, whose using it, and how they are collecting it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for ways in which to drive and capture consensual consumer behavior, KPI’s, market metrics, and behavior to help drive more effective solutions, services, usage, and strategies, but the consumer should be informed AND give their consent to allow the capture and usage of this information. Apparently, this is not the case here.

Remember when Apple was tracking people’s location movements via their iPhone’s and cataloging the data? This is way worse. Of course, Apple was forced to stop that practice. But this new embedded spyware? If you own a non-Apple smart phone you should check out this disturbing article. So far, it effects 100 million of you. Even you do own an Apple iPhone, you should still check it out. This could still be happening with your iPhone.We just don’t know yet.


Tens of Millions of Smartphones Come With Spyware pre-installed, Security Analyst Says

Over 100 million smartphones are tracking their owners’ every step, Android developer Trevor Eckhart claimed, thanks to software that comes pre-installed on phones from most major carriers.

During a security demonstration revealed on Monday, Eckhart showed how software developed by Carrier IQ tracks virtually everything a user does — going as far as logging individual keystrokes and button presses. The company claims it helps its customers improve quality and performance “by counting and measuring operational information in mobile devices.” Security experts call it spyware.

“I assume that when I SMS my wife on the phone, no one is intercepting that message,” Chet Wisniewski of security firm Sophos told FoxNews.com. He called the whole ordeal is a “serious invasion of privacy.”

“Why do they need to know when I’m logging into Bank of America, when I’m accessing my password? It’s a different level of snooping,” he said.

Developed as a mobile analytics platform, Carrier IQ’s software can be found on most Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones — over 140 million phones in total, the company’s website boasts. Some reports suggest Apple iPhones may carry the software as well.

The company has flat out denied that its software records keystrokes, a claim Eckhart’s latest video seems to refute.

“Every button you press in the dialer before you call,” Eckhart says in his latest video, “it already gets sent off to the IQ application.”

Eckhart did not return FoxNews.com phone calls, and Carrier IQ declined to comment on his claims. A statement on the company’s website reiterates the company’s claims that its software does not track customers or record keystrokes.

“This information is used by our customers as a mission critical tool to improve the quality of the network, understand device uses and ultimately improve the user experience,” the company said. By evaluating these metrics, Carrier IQ aims to help with issues such as “dropped calls and battery drain.”

In videos showing Carrier IQ at work, Eckhart showed it going beyond such utilitarian monitoring. He showed Carrier IQ’s software monitoring entire text messages, a Google search, and his location, even during sessions protected by HTTPS, a security protocol that encrypts communications for sensitive transactions like online banking.

Sprint has acknowledged using Carrier IQ’s software, but denies having access to personal data.

“Carrier IQ provides information that allows Sprint, and other carriers that use it, to analyze our network performance and identify where we should be improving service,” Sprint told CNET earlier this month. “We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool,” Sprint continued.

While Wisniewski understands the needs for data and metrics, he believes carriers must be more forthcoming about how they are monitoring their users, what data they are collecting, and how they are protecting that data.

“If you’re going to collect that kind of information from people, you have to meet a different standard,” Wisniewski told FoxNews.com.

But for now, most users are stuck, unable to even turn off or uninstall the program.

“The Carrier IQ application is embedded so deeply in the device that it can’t be fully removed without rebuilding the phone from source code,” Eckhart wrote on his website.

“Even where a device is out of contract, there is no off switch to stop the application from gathering data.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/01/is-your-smartphone-secretly-spying-on/#ixzz1fJJ3Zfhk


Written by David Frederick

December 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Online Filter Bubbles

Check out this very interesting video from Eli Pariser at a February 2011 TED Event. Very interesting on how search engines, content providers and other web providers are giving you what they think you need versus what you actually want. Eli makes a very interesting case that as web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli argues powerfully, that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

Check it out here!

Beating the Recession Blues

I have been posting a lot about the economic ruin in our country at the behest of Congress and the Obama administration. Believe me, there is a lot to write about. Take this mornings headlines:

Homes lost to foreclosure up 6% from last year...
Jobless claims jump to highest since February
DOW drops 265...
Q2 GDP Growth Could Be Revised To Just 1% After Trade Data...
No one could say the U.S. and world economy is in good shape. This obviously affects and impacts global business large and small, which ultimately effects the American people, consumers, workers and business owners. But I am a realistic optimist and believe things will turn around. Assuming we are all here and still in business, this will be a good thing.
I received an interesting post from Harvard Business Review talking about beating the Post Recession Blues. Clearly, people at Harvard think the recession is over. Perhaps they don’t read the headlines or look at the numbers. The recession is over only if you believe the government definition and weren’t they the ones that got us into this mess? I digress. The article does have some interesting points from an emotional perspective that I believe are relevant and should be considered.
Here are some highlights from the article by Ron Ashkenas entitled “Do you have the Postrecession Blues?”
If the recession is officially over (according to government statistics), why are you still down in the dumps? It may be your mindset. It is hard to see opportunity amidst high unemployment rates, tight credit, a slow housing market, and more. But the reality is that the recession has created a whole set of opportunities (DF NOTE: I totally agree). Don’t be preoccupied with the negatives. Instead, look for ways to grow and create competitive advantage. (DF NOTE: HELL YEAH!) Has the recession hurt your competitors? How can you take advantage of the focus on sustainability? (DF NOTE: People don’t care about sustainability when they can’t pay their bills including consumers!) How are you planning to move into new markets? (DF NOTE: Its tough when the government keeps taxing you) Think of the problems that the current economic environment creates and look for the opportunities they generate. This shift in mindset can help you beat the blues. (DF NOTE: Agreed)
OK, so post analysis. Some good points in there. There are always opportunities if you look hard enough. Sometimes, one persons/company’s problem is another opportunity. Its tough out there … no question, but… if you look hard enough, think outside the box, innovate, execute and keep to the basics, you can make great things happen for you, your company and your clients. To quote one of my favorite characters Rodney Copperbottom from the movie Robots – “See a need, fill a need”.
The only way to beat the recession blues is to focus like a laser on identifying opportunities, creating solutions to those opportunities and executing. Things are tough, but they will get better. Focus and execute. Find new ways to solve your clients challenges. Think outside the box, rapidly innovate, take advantage of technology to lower your cost of operation, manufacturing, etc. Force yourself to think of new ways to succeed, become more efficient, do more with less, etc. remember, plan for 80% and the go. The remaining 90% is usually non-relevant, redundant, and not necessary. Keep plugging and make things happen. No one else will do it for you. Especially the government!

Written by David Frederick

August 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Travels & Tribulations

I just returned from a very productive and enjoyable consulting trip in Arizona with one of my favorite clients. What was most interesting, at least to me was the experiences I had at the airport(s) and hotel, and the observations, and aggravations I experienced. Therefore, I would like to satisfy my own personal venting and  share with you my observations for your amusement.

  1. Ladies, when traveling on an airplane or staying in a hotel (getting on the elevator) DO NOT over due the perfume! Not only does it smell like bug spray, it gives me an asthma attack.
  2. Men, when traveling on an airplane, please DO NOT wear flip flops. Yes, I know its convenient in security, but no one wants to see your nasty feet and toe nails.
  3. Why do people feel compelled to immediately congregate at the boarding line like Pavlov’s dogs, the instant the gate agent picks up the mic to announce something, usually not your flights info!
  4. Why do people willingly disregard or forget the English language when the gate agent discusses the boarding procedures and boarding zones. This applies to first class  (a misnomer) as well.
  5. The utter disregard, idiocy and ignorance of passenger people in the security zone. I guess the numerous signs in 10 languages with an annoying and loud, voice over on the intercom explaining the same thing for those visually impaired… I guess, explaining the TSA’s expectations, Federal regulations, what to pull out and not, etc. all in multiple languages. People STILL Screw it up! This includes the business and first class lines! Sheep and cattle or more manageable!
  6. People with head phones that looks like it should be used to land the plan they are flying on! Dude… get ear buds! Ditch the huge Abby Road muffs.
  7. DO NOT Try to pack your whole life into a carry on. Carry on means carry your stuff on the plan in a moderate sized bag. Trying to stuff 100 lbs of crap in a 10 lbs bag doesn’t work and it WONT fit in the overhead.
  8. Ladies, do not bring “book bags” with the loop handles on the plan. The almost always tip over spilling fruit, yarn, books and glasses everywhere!
  9. Guys, whats up with the dual double diamond ear rings that make you look like refugees from the Ubangi tribe?
  10. Regional airline pilots. What happened to the good old fashion former or current military pilots. I was fortunate (not!) to stand next to 4 regional commuter pilots who looked like and acted like they were from a 90’s boy band. Worse, they were cursing, bitching about their union and other pilots, ultimately acting like unprofessional “teenagers”,  all in front of passengers waiting to board their flight. Fortunately they were not flying my flight. They were passengers on my flight. When the real pilots showed up, there was NO doubt who they were and their experience. United needs to work on the commuter pilots. Perhaps, they could learn from United’s main line pilots who are pros.
  11. Bladder control problems. Folks, do you really think it is a good idea to drink the 27 and 3/4 ounce capafrapachino drink 10 minutes before you board?
  12. Near proximity mobile phone calls. Just because you have an ear piece in your head does not mean you need to yell and share your lame conversation with the airport. Shhhh. If you really need to discuss your ex-husband, legal case, girl friends car, or mothers operation, please find a small corner of the air port lounge or gate to speak in private. I don’t want to hear you and am I sure no one else does either.
  13. Hippa Violations. Almost as bad as the attorney sitting across from me discussing the details of his case, strategy and client (I hope his client gets a new attorney!), is the doctor i.e. the Neuro-surgon who was sitting next to me reviewing MRI’s with NO privacy screen on his 17 inch high res lap top. Not only could I see the tumors, but I could see the patients name, SS#, Hospital ID, diagnosis, MRI notes, etc. Hey, doc…. invest in a $200 privacy screen from 3M. Do yourself and your patients a favor. By the way, Mrs XXXXXXXXX is going to be fine.
  14. For people who stay in hotels of all classes. DO NOT LET THE DOOR SLAM when you enter your room! Take a second and help the door close quietly. Especially at 4:30AM when leaving your room trying to catch your flight. Slamming or letting the door slam while loudly trundling your luggage down the hall yelling into your mobile phone only pisses people off. Just don’t do it. Think and act like you would like to be treated.
  15. The nickle and dime charging for everything on airlines. Even in first class. Either raise the price to include oxygen or stop charging.
  16. Perhaps they should have dedicated airlines for business that excludes everyone else.
  17. Poor customer service at hotels and airlines. In a service business, there is NO excuse for poor customer service. Especially when you are paying a premium.
  18. Airports are designed for airplanes. Not people. Especially business people.
  19. Ladies, if you are wearing shorts with words printed on the bum, you should really ensure it fits. IF your phrase such as sugar or sweetie pie runs hip to hip, change your cloths. No one, I mean no one needs to be subject that. Especially kids.
  20. If you are wearing skimpy/light cloths with no sleeves, don’t complain about the plane being to cold. Put some damn cloths on or ask for a blanked. Better yet, prepare and dress appropriately.
  21. Mothers, if you have an infant be sure to bring the babies nuk/binki/pacifier/etc. or bottle and give it to the baby during take off and landing. This helps take the pressure of the baby’s ears and keeps the baby happy i.e. not crying. ( how do I know this? I have 5 kids under 13!)
  22. Standing up and unbuckling while the seat belt sign is on is not only dumb, but dangerous. Just look at the United flight a couple weeks back that hit strong turbulence. All the people who got hurt were unbuckled, walking around or going to the bathroom even though the flight crew said to get seated the captain has put on the seat belt sign.
  23. Finally…. think, plan, execute. It’s not that hard people.

Now for some cool stuff.

  1. United’s Mobile Boarding – Use the emailed image on your iPhone or Smart phone as your boarding pass
  2. Inflight WiFi. A little slow, but still cool and productive when on a long flight.
  3. Travel Trip app for your iPhone. Keeps you updated on gates, delays,weather, car rental, etc. Must have application
  4. When flying United, listen in to channel 9. The ATC and aircraft comms channel. You can hear everything that is going on around you in the air and on the ground. It also gives you a sense of the order and management of the highway in the sky.
  5. The new United mid-flight tour from the captain on channel 9. He or she will tell you all about your route, interesting points about the flight, plane, speed, weight, fuel costs, fuel burn rate, sites out the window, etc. Interesting stuff i.e. the 757 I was on got 1/2 gallon to the mile and cost $27,000 is jet fuel to fly from Phoenix to Washing DC. We traveled at a cruising speed of around 600 MPH, it was -70 degrees outside the cabin at 42,000 feet, etc. I know, I am a geek.
  6. Another interesting data point. When it’s lightning on the air field, ALL planes stop in their tracks, all people on the field go in doors and NO one moves until there is no more lightning for at minimum of 10 minutes from the last lightning strike. That lightning strike has to be in a 20 mile radius of the air field. That’s why where there is a weather delay, it effects everything and everyone which ripples out into the whole air travel system i.e. delay’s, cancellations, etc. A mess.

That’s it. Hope you enjoyed my rant and learned something!


Written by David Frederick

August 6, 2010 at 3:21 PM

New Financial Overhaul Bill Unconstitutional

When one of the co-sponsors of a humongous 2,000 page piece of legislation (The recently passed Financial Overhaul Bill) states in Nancy Pelosi fashion ” No one will know until it’s actually in place how it works” ( Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Washington Post). Are you serious? what the hell does that mean? Just like the health care bill – “we really wont know whats in it until we pass it so we can see whats really in it”. Huh? You know you are in trouble when the co-sponsor and author of the bill states that about a bill he is in charge of!!

But worse, this bill is blatantly unconstitutional. Let me give you two high level and basic examples.

1: The provision that allows the Federal Government to monitor, review and report on the financial, personnel and operational records and operations of a PRIVATE U.S. Business. If the government doesn’t like what it see’s OR feels that it is too big to fail” it can seize your business. This type of thing only used to be for public companies. Now it is for all companies – mom and pop, one man/woman shops and small business. This completely violates the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

2: If, as a small or privately owned business, you acquire certain assets and through the issue listed above in #1, the government can also take away and seize your assets and company without a search warrant or through a U.S. court of law. This is in violation of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights that protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure.

Folks, I am pro small business, as many of you know, but this bill is a tremendous violation of fundamental civil and commercial liberties and statutes, and is nothing more than another government land grab under the umbrella of “protecting consumers”. Really? Do you really believe that? Well, of course there are those who say if this type of legislation had been in place before 2008 we wouldn’t have had the melt down, wall street debacle, etc.


There are over 25+ federal agencies and organizations that have oversight and enforcement of banking, public business, finance, trading, etc. Where was the federal government and all its agencies to protect us from Wall Street, the banking and housing collapse. Did you ever hear of Freddy and Fanny? Did you know they were Federal agencies? What about the SEC? Or the FBI? They are Federal Agencies that are supposed to police and enforce voluminous amounts of existing and complex laws including SOX, statutes and policies around finance, housing, banking and a plethora of other things. When did you ever see the Federal Government fix or solve anything! I mean really. Especially in business.

This is nothing more than big government control which ultimately will be destined to be deemed unconstitutional, challenged in court and either shot down and/or repealed. Hopefully the knuckleheads in DC will come up with something more effective, with real enforcement and oversight of those that need it. Not small business.

Oh by the way…. are you ready for the new tax increases on the horizon for small business? Don’t you just love all the help and stimulus brought to you by your government. How is this working out for your business?

Instead of over-taxing, over-regulating, and sticking their nose into private businesses, how about serious tax incentives for small business? Innovation funding? Technology and Education Grants? Aggressive employer – employment incentives? Encourage real small business lending and credit access. Real export opportunity. Real support for small business – the growth and job engine of America? You wouldn’t need 2,000 pages of unconstitutional legislation to craft an effective and realistic bill that supports American business instead of killing it dead. You want to put American’s back to work? Give small business the tools necessary to succeed and get out-of-the-way.


Written by David Frederick

July 16, 2010 at 9:15 PM

The State of the Future

This is kind of a big read, but extremely relevant, interesting and somewhat comprehensive. The one area that the report does not really cover or take into consideration is the direct impact of local, regional, state, government and sovereign debt, deficits and spending and their impact on Countries ability to positively impact or negatively contribute to the articulated challenges. Check it out if you dare!

– DF

The state of the future
July 14, 2010 by Jerome C. Glenn

As noted in our 2010 State of the Future (the 14th annual report from the Millennium Project, just published), the world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.

If current trends in population growth, resource depletion, climate change, terrorism, organized crime, and disease continue and converge over the next 50 to 100 years, it is easy to imagine an unstable world with catastrophic results. However, if current trends in self-organization via future Internets, transnational cooperation, materials science, alternative energy, cognitive science, inter-religious dialogues, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology continue and converge over the next 50 to 100 years, it is easy to imagine a world that works for all.

Fewer children are dying, more children are going to school, people are living longer, the world powers are at peace, and the US and Russia have signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. Yet the numbers of malnourished children in Africa and Asia are increasing; education is poorly preparing the next generation for a more knowledge-oriented future; aging populations will overburden the financial capability to provide retirement benefits and health care without new policies; and the sophistication and diversity of terrorism continues to proliferate. The 2010 Peace Index in the report shows that while the risk of war is declining in most areas of the world, violent crime has increased.

Our study has found eight specific problem areas where things are getting worse: Global Surface Temperature Anomalies, People Voting in Elections (% population of voting age for 15 largest countries), Unemployment (% of total labor force), Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total), Levels of Corruption (15 largest countries), People killed or injured in terrorist attacks (number), and Refugee population by country or territory of asylum.

To Read more of this article click here

To purchase the report, click here

Remembering George Steinbrenner and the day I met the man.

I was very fortunate. I actually meet George Steinbrenner, when I was 10 years old. For those of you who know about my musical background, you will remember that my father was and still is a very accomplished musician. At the time, he was working for a synthesizer company based in the Yonkers.

As such, he was invited to play the organ and the after mentioned synthesizer at Yankee stadium during the 7th inning stretch and before the game. I can still remember the game, Yanks vs. A’s. Yanks won. As my dad was want to do, he took me along for the experience and to go to Yankee stadium. Before the game in the late morning the Public Relations guy was walking me, my dad and one of his colleagues around Yankee stadium for a tour and to check out the organ/synth set up, and who do we run into? George!

We are introduced, shake hands and then George squats down into a catcher position and starts asking me about my favorite Yankee players, and just as suddenly, he jumps up and says come with me young man. As I followed in his wake not sure where this guy is taking me, he takes my into the Yankee’s “pro shop” and store area, and loads me up with Yankee’s stuff – hats, bats, batting gloves, batting helmets, rain coat slickers, stickers, t-shirts, etc. I mean loads me up. I need to large bags to carry all this stuff.

He tells me that “these are things every Yankee fan should have” and proceeds to tell the Public Relations guy to make sure we are taken care of, enjoy the game, and he was gone. Just like that.

Now two things occur to me, one I have no clue who this guy was other than what the PR guys tells us in the intro. Yes, he’s the owner of the NY Yankee’s, etc. But at 10 years old, that doesn’t really mean anything to me. Second, I wasn’t sure how to explain that I was more of a Red Sox fan. Did he have any Yaz or Jim Rice stuff?

But its more complicated than that, I was actually a Yankee’s fan as well, Reggie, Bucky, etc. Yes, I know this creates a cosmic disturbance in the universe and it is hard to explain. But there is a legitimate rational and explanation that I don’t have time to discuss in this posting. But trust me. Finally, on this point….. this dichotomy still is in existence and has filtered down to my one Son who is a Sox fan, but loves Derrick Jeeter and also follows and routes for the Yanks as well as the Sox! This of course creates a problem when the Yank’s play the Sox. but I digress.

Where was I, oh yes, so… in that flurry of a chance meeting in a hall way, I met a man larger than life, kind, decisive and ready to take a little boy and give him the world at Yankee Stadium (The old one) At least that’s what it seemed like to me. I was so impressed with his kindness to me, personal attention, and direct interest in me and what I had to say, that I always maintained a great affinity and liking for him and the Yanks. Say what you will about him and his management style. But to me, a 10 year old kid who loves baseball, he was kind, personally and genuinely interested in what I had to say, and funny to be with. He made a huge positive impression on me. Plus, he gave me free stuff. Those are all golden when your 10!

As you can imagine, my great day in the Bronx progressed to having lunch in the Yankee’s private cafeteria (Where I got to meet more Yankee’s), go into the locker room and meet some great players who were also very kind to me, walk the field, get my picture taken with Bucky Dent in the dug out, watch the game in the press box ( More free food and ice cream!) and see my dad play the organ and synthesizer with his name on the big screen in center-field.

Pretty awesome! George will be missed both in baseball and in the business world. I will miss him and will forever remember him for his kindness to me. He was a class act.


Written by David Frederick

July 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM