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Homeland Security Warning: Your Calls Are Being Intercepted

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Three Apps Designed to Protect Your Privacy

Currently, an estimated 6 million people call the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area home. With a population of that size, it’s easy for people (and things) to blend in.

Let’s say someone left a small item the size of a suitcase in an alley or under a stairwell. It would likely go unnoticed for a while. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening around our nation’s capital.

Now, these aren’t just empty suitcases or bags belonging to homeless people. They aren’t homemade explosives either — thank goodness.

They are actually small electronic gadgets designed to mimic a cellphone tower. In other words, these devices trick your phone into connecting to it instead of an actual cellphone tower, thus intercepting your phone call.

Someone Is Listening

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), these spying devices are a growing risk. They have been found in several high-profile areas including near the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The DHS warned that these devices could prevent cellphones from making 911 calls as well as intercept calls and messages. Even worse, they confessed they haven’t determined who is operating them.

Most likely, these devices are being deployed by foreign governments. My first guess is China; second, Russia. The bottom line is we know that our cellphone communications are easily listened in on and massive amounts of cellphone data are constantly being collected.

In fact, I was recently talking to a former agency colleague who told me he assumes every phone call he makes is being monitored — and he’s probably right.

That’s why I want to introduce you to three different smartphone applications that can encrypt your phone calls. For the sake of your privacy and security, I recommend using them — no matter where you live.

  1. Silent Phone — This app is available for both iOS and Android and free for most users. Silent Phone protects calls, video chat and messaging with end-to-end encryption (as long as both people are using the app). Silent Phone does allow communication with nonusers, but you will be secure on your end at the very least. In addition, you can securely send PDF, DOCX, MOV, MP4, PNG and JPEG files, which is a great feature if you want to keep your business dealings private. You can even do encrypted conference calling, so if you wanted all your employees on a secure call together, this would be the best app for you.
  2. Signal — This is another free application for iOS and Android phones. It also uses end-to-end encryption, which means the server never has access to any of your communications and does not store any of your data. One of the best things about this app is that it allows you to use your same cellphone number — it doesn’t require you to create separate logins, usernames, passwords or PINs to use the app. For those who are tech experts, this app is open source — anyone can verify its security protocol to make sure it’s top-notch. Another beneficial feature of this app is that you can create fully encrypted group chats. The app never has access to the group’s metadata so the company can’t identify who joined the group chat.
  3. Apple FaceTime — This application is exclusive to Apple products, but it’s free and available for use on iPhones, iPads and Mac laptops and desktops. Apple has no way to decrypt FaceTime data when it’s in transit between devices, so unlike other companies’ messaging services, Apple can’t scan your communications. Even if the court system ordered Apple to produce communications between people on FaceTime, they wouldn’t be able to do so simply because they don’t store that information. There is no question Apple is one of the leading tech companies when it comes to protecting the security of its users.

In this day and age, I would tell every American to act like there is always someone listening in on their phone conversations. With the spying that goes on these days, everyone is at risk — even if you aren’t a clandestine government employee.

The next time you want to share a secret document with a co-worker — or you simply want to relay personal information to a family member — consider using one of these programs to ensure no one is listening or intercepting your information.



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