Alright everyone, pull up a chair, get a hot cocoa and buckle up, we need to talk about the latest privacy exploit you’re going to ignore. Parents, you especially need to sit down a moment. I do IT by trade, I have some confessions to make, and you need to hear them.
I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I was in the hardware repair sector of the IT world, but I was there long enough, and things haven’t changed much aside from the hoops companies are jumping through to kill right-to-repair. This month it’s Apple’s FaceTime app giving everyone some all too temporary jitters about what exactly all those sensors on their phones are doing. First, let’s set up everyone reading this into their 2 necessary camps. Camp 1, you guys seriously don’t care if naked pictures or your sex tape ends up on the internet for some reason, who’d recognize you anyway? Camp 2, everyone else, maybe you have some pictures you’d rather the world didn’t see, or you’d be concerned if you thought your phone microphone was listening to you when you thought it shouldn’t be. Camp 1, we solid, you guys know the score and you can stop reading here.
Camp 2, take a sip of that cocoa. You need to stop getting shocked about these sorts of things. You need a new axiom. That dude that puts the sticky note over the webcam on his laptop, he’s got the right idea. Dell and HP certainly seem to think so, they’ve been installing physical ‘off switches’ for their webcams when they’re built into their computers for years. They’re just plastic sliders that go over the lens. Consider your cameras on, and your microphones open, all the time. Not to scare you, but to keep you conscious about what you’re putting on your devices. Camp 1 has the right idea, they know everything that goes on their devices can end up on the internet and they’re at peace with that.
Here’s another thing that hasn’t changed much in the repair industry; technicians that comb your computer over for porn and other compromising pictures. I’ve worked for a couple really strict and ethical shops, one, a national chain at the time, went under. Other shops aren’t so mindful about that sorta thing. I remember one shop that ran an off-grid file server to store images of unsuspecting co-ed customers. Apparently MacBook owners were the most likely to have home movies of themselves. Technicians at that shop also collected pictures of illicit drug use and anything else they considered salacious from customers that thought they were getting a better shake. It seemed to me more laptops had this content on them than didn’t, all told, by the time I got out of that sector of the industry. Dad’s I have some bad news for you. More girls have pictures and movies of themselves stored on their devices than guys have pictures of them, or at least if they do the guys are smart enough to erase them before sending their device in for repair. Surprised? I was too, but maybe we can chalk that up to the availability of that content from anonymous women through pornography.
We’ve seen a lot of high profile data breaches over the last couple years. Facebook had a few breaches by itself. Is it any wonder revenge porn is the problem it is when people just can’t come to grips with the idea that the internet is forever. Well, that’s only halfway there. Uploads are forever, your camera is always on, your mic is always hot. Accept it. If it bothers you, change your habits, if not, congrats you’re Camp 1 now, but stop getting surprised every time this happens and then fret about what might have made it out into the wide web.
Apologies for the tone of this article, but this is a decade long frustration at this point, and y’all need a wake up call bad. I’d love to hear from other technicians or former technicians on this. Drop some truth in the comments if the mood strikes you.
Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.