Snowden: Smartphone is the most dangerous item I own


The first thing whistleblower Edward Snowden says when purchasing a new phone is to remove several hidden microphones and make other adjustments. Despite this, Snowden calls his smartphone the most dangerous item he owns, and that will not change as long as there is an entire industry whose sole purpose is to find and exploit vulnerabilities in the devices.


The whistleblower points to the recent outcry about the NSO Group's Pegasus spyware that allegedly spied on activists, journalists and politicians worldwide. Several news organizations obtained a list of 50,000 phone numbers that could be Pegasus targets. However, for years, the Pegasus spyware has been reported to be full of serious vulnerabilities, and phones allow extensive monitoring and tracking of users.


Still, according to Snowden, it's hard for people to accept that something that feels so good isn't really good at all. "The phone you're holding is in a continuous state of insecurity, ready to be infected by anyone who gives money to the new Insecurity Industry," the whistleblower said in an article on Substack.


With the Insecurity Industry, Snowden points to companies whose sole purpose is to find vulnerabilities in smartphones and then develop exploits and malware that allow their customers to attack targets. An industry that Snowden says should be dismantled. Even if companies like the NSO Group disappeared, it wouldn't change the fact that we are in the "greatest computer security crisis in computer history," Snowden said.


“Most vulnerabilities found and exploited by the Insecurity Industry are introduced for technical reasons so that a computer can keep track of what it needs to do, at the exact time the code is written, making choosing a more secure programming language an essential protection. and yet this is rarely done," notes the whistleblower.


Snowden also sees a role for governments in tackling companies such as the NSO Group and holding them accountable for the consequences of their software. "If we don't do anything to stop the sale of this technology, it won't just be 50,000 targets: it will be 50 million targets, and it will happen much faster than we think. This will be the future: a world where people too busy fiddling with their phones to notice that someone else is controlling it."

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