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Get on the Stick!

CSI Stick, that is! (My title is NOT an endorsement!)

As one rather famous CEO of mine once said, “You have no privacy. Get over it!” I disagreed with him at the time, but a lot of folks are working hard on making him correct. I personally believe that you have a little, tiny, constantly decreasing bit of privacy! :-)

Physical security comes first.

The CSI Stick (Cellular Seizure Investigation Stick) is a new electronic capture device (starting at $199) and about the size of a BIC lighter that was developed for law enforcement, surveillance, and intelligence operations, but which is available to the public. The CSI Stick is manufactured by a company called Paraben and plugs directly into most Motorola and Samsung cell phones. The Stick then downloads all of the data on the phone, including emails, instant messages, dialed numbers, and deleted files that have not been overwritten. More phones, including those from Nokia, RIM, LG, and others, will be added to the list in the next generation of CSI Stick, which is to be released soon. The CSI Stick leaves no traces that the data has been downloaded from the phone.

Just add this inexpensive, publicly available device to the myriad other ways to invade your privacy, such as breaking into and stealing data from your phone via Bluetooth, attacks by the WI-FI vulnerabilities that a lot of people know about (and a lot more don’t), and even stealing data from the RFID chip in your newer U.S. Passport that has only weak encryption to “protect” it. Of course, corporations have been tracking people around with RFID tags for years, and the future holds more of the same.

Then, of course, there is the work by the Pros, such as remote activation of your cell phone mic by the FBI (Can they do this with the camera? Think about it.) and the wholesale surveillance of Internet/phone traffic by government.

Meanwhile, folks at the MIT Media Lab have developed “mind-reading” software that uses a camera to analyze the facial expressions of others. Other folks are rapidly developing location-aware services that feed information to your cell phone on the basis of where it is located, with your permission and authorization. And then of course there are all of the developers working on location-aware applications for the iPhone.

OK, OK, it’s a “Brave New World” out there. It is important to be aware, but not paranoid. With regard to the CSI Stick’s capabilities and public availability, awareness means not leaving your cell phone unattended, unless you are willing to have all of the information on it copied by others (even by nonprofessional, relatively low-tech others, like friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family).

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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