Sunday, May 7, 2017

The test continues...

It has been five weeks now since I destroyed my smart phone and switched back to an old "dumb" phone that I had lying around in a drawer.  So far, I have to say, I haven't missed having a smart phone much.  I've always disliked that feeling of carrying around such a distraction wherever I go.  I don't like that nagging desire to constantly check my emails, and texts, and Facebook, news, etc., etc.  It is a relief to just be able to forget about all of that stuff. 

At the same time, I really don't like having to reply to texts by tap, tap, tapping on a number keypad, the old-fashioned way.  So today, I decided to take a look at the latest offerings from the company who made my last smart phone.  My last two phones, actually, have been manufactured by a company called BLU.  They are based in the U.S., but buy all of their components from China, from the same suppliers that make other Android-based phones.  They don't have a lot of marketing, or corporate overhead, so they are able to sell their phones quite cheaply.

So anyway, no, this is not any kind of endorsement for BLU phones.  Quite the contrary!  Today I was checking out the newest versions and I found out that one of their suppliers pulled a sneaky trick.  They loaded some malware onto the phones, shipped straight from the factory, that automatically sent every single text from a user's phone, plus call logs for every number called, back to a server in China.  Yes, that's right, if you bought one of these phones that meant that every text you sent to your friends, or your mother, or your girlfriend or boyfriend, all of them were duplicated and sent to this server in China where they were collected and saved for purposes unknown.

Apparently, BLU was shipping these phones with no idea that they were infected with this malware.  After customers began to find it themselves, BLU says that they fixed the problem, just within the last few days.  BUT, the story doesn't end there.  Now customers are complaining that while the malware is gone in the latest software updates, there is an adware program in it's place.  This one doesn't send your personal information to a Chinese server, but it does make unwanted ads pop up in your browser.

So... long story short, I did like my last BLU phones, and I would like to get another one, but I'm not in any hurry.  I think I'll wait a while and see how all of this shakes out.  It does leave me wondering, who was collecting that data and for what purpose?  Chinese intelligence?  Identity thieves?  Advertisers looking for an edge?  Whatever the answer, it just goes to show, you can't be too careful these days.  I guess my old "dumb" phone will do for a little while longer...

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