Government Spy App

Q: What is all this talk about an app being used by governments to spy on us? It’s shocking that these apps would be available in the app stores!

A: You may not know much about the United Arab Emirates, or even where to find it on a blank political map. Conversely, you may have heard wondrous stories about Dubai, that ultra-modern desert city with terraformed islands and indoor ski slopes. Behind the glamor, the UAE government is pretty suspicious of its citizens, and it’s using a social networking app called ToTok to harvest data on everyday users. That’s not a typo, by the way: “ToTok” is different from “TikTok,” the popular video-sharing app, although they do have a few things in common, including conspicuously similar names. Tap or click here to read more about ToTok.

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SIM swap attack

Q: Can you please explain what exactly is a SIM swap attack? I thought I heard you say hackers can take over my phone this way!

A: The name is a little misleading: a hacker doesn’t switch the SIM on your phone. Instead, the hacker uses an entirely different phone, walks into the storefront of a service provider, and pretends to be you. The hacker claims to have lost or damaged a phone; if the scam works, the hacker downloads all of your information from the Cloud. From there, the hacker can access your accounts and even drain your bank account. It’s a terrifying idea because you may not even know it’s happening until you’ve lost all your money and private information. Tap or click here for five ways to defend your phone against SIM swaps.



End robocalls now

Q: I’m getting a ton of robocalls. Any way to make them stop?

A: I finally have some excellent news: carriers are cracking down. I want to exclaim, “What took you guys so long?” but better late than never. The simplest solution is usually to block a specific number, which works both for weird digits from faraway locations and for “dummy” numbers that mask themselves with nearby area codes. This tactic probably won’t work for “private” or unlisted numbers, which robocallers routinely use to confuse the recipient. Some of these strategies are free, while others cost small fees and may require separate apps. Don’t expect to eliminate all robocalls for the rest of your life, but you can expect to reduce the number of unwanted rings drastically. Tap or click here to end robocalls if you are using AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint.

Dump stalkerware

Q: My ex is crazy. He seems to know a lot about my life even though we no longer live together. What can I do to check for any trackers on my phone?

A: I hope you’re able to distance yourself from him soon. There’s the physical danger, of course; an ex who knows your movements can find ways to cross paths with you, which lend itself to verbal abuse or even assault. But there’s also the invasion of privacy; the more an ex knows about your personal life, the more he can use this information against you. All of this boils down to your own device: has your ex installed stalkerware on your phone, enabling him to spy on you? Such programs are designed to be difficult to spot, so you may have to do some detective work to make sure. Tap or click here for six signs that your phone has stalkerware.

Kim Komando’s show from 1-4 p.m. Sundays on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. Read her columns or get her newsletters at komando.com.


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