Data security meets disco fever

Cringely has a security warning for anybody heading overseas: Don't let your smartphone fall into the wrong hands

Here's a travel advisory: The next time you find yourself in a foreign city at night with nothing to do, take my advice: rent a movie in your hotel room. Don't go to discos. And if you do go out, don't bring a smart phone with you.

A high-ranking UK official got Shanghai'd in Shanghai last January, possibly compromising the cyber security of the British government. Out partying at a disco in the Forbidden City, he went home with an attractive Chinese national. He woke up with a smile on his face, but the girl and his Blackberry were missing. (Hey, at least he still had his kidneys.)

According to the Times of London:

A senior official said yesterday that the incident had all the hallmarks of a suspected honeytrap by Chinese intelligence. ....Experts say that even if the aide's device did not contain anything top secret, it might enable a hostile intelligence service to hack into the Downing Street server, potentially gaining access to No 10's e-mail traffic and text messages.

Though many of the reader responses to this story are priceless, this one from "Graham" in South Africa stands out:

"I have to sympathise with this guy. Last Tuesday night I was picked up by a young lady and one thing led to another and the next morning I discovered she'd stolen 100 rand from my wallet. It happened again on Thursday night, then Saturday, and with any luck it will happen again tomorrow."

Downing Street claims it suffered "no compromise to security" in the incident. China hotly denies its spies are involved. Right. I believe them. But with the Beijing "high-tech" Olympics coming up in a few weeks, this hasn't made anyone feel safer about cyber security in China. Again, per the Times:

Joel Brenner, the US government's top counter-intelligence official, warned: "So many people are going to the Olympics and are going to get electronically undressed."

Which doesn't sound nearly as much fun as being physically undressed, though equally risky. The good news: This now gives Olympics tourists something to worry about besides the air quality in Beijing. Using a Blackberry in China can't be that much more dangerous than simply breathing.

David Gewirtz, author of Where Have All the Emails Gone?, notes that US government officials are not much better at protecting their Blackberries than their lascivious British counterparts. Karl Rove has allegedly lost several of the gadgets, no doubt containing his secret plans for world domination. Last April White House staffers left a half dozen of the smart phones outside a conference room in New Orleans, then claimed they were stolen by a member of the Mexican delegation. (No doubt dressed as Salma Hayek.)

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?