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Random noise

I talked a while back about how you shouldn't be using Huawei equipment, due to it's deep ties with the Chinese government and the multiple security problems with it's devices (NZ seems to've largely ignored this, probably for trade reasons, while Aus, UK and the US have taken stronger stances). But it turns out you also shouldn't be using phone brands owned by China full-stop. This includes but is not limited to the following: Oppo, OnePlus, Realme (not the NZ site, the Chinese cellphone brand), Gigaset, Huawei and Xiaomi.

As antivirus and internet security company Trend Micro found, literally millions of android-based phones, mostly made by Chinese brands, have come with malware (a general term describing software that performs actions not to the user's advantage, including viruses, credit card stealers, advertising, cryptomining software and tracking software) pre-installed, meaning the user didn't have to do anything - the bad software was already active from the moment they bought the phone.

The sensible solution is either to opt for an Apple phone, or if you're like me and you prefer the Android OS, go for one of the bigger-name non-Chinese Android brands such as Google, Sony or Samsung (and if you care about ethical sourcing of materials, avoid Samsung).

Since I've run out of things to talk about on this subject, let's jump ship to a related topic: Ultrasound cross-device tracking. While this technology has been around since at least 2015, if not before, the ability of some smartphone applications to recognise your location or TV-viewing decisions based on small inaudible ultrasound signatures broadcasted by other digital devices such as TV's, is somewhat unsettling.

Data on how many applications or devices are currently doing this is not immediately obvious, but as of 2017 at least 234 apps were found to be doing so, and were removed from app stores. It seems like the technology may not have had significant uptake in recent years, but other forms of cross-device tracking such as Google accounts have become more ubiquitous.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

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