Secure Phones?

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SLB_SA

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Like many of you, my personal information was lost in hacks of Equifax link ("Equifax, one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States, announced in September 2017 that its systems had been breached and the sensitive personal data of 148 million Americans had been compromised. The data breached included names, home addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.") and possibly a former employer and others ("In October 2015, Experian breached the records of 15 million T-Mobile customers, which included names, addresses, SSNs, dates of birth, and identification numbers."). I receive regular reports that my phone number is found on the dark web.

For certain purposes (e.g. social security, financial, medical), I might like to have a second cell number (with a different company) which is only used for confidential purposes like my mysocialsecurity account, my retirement account and my doctors. However I wonder if I can trust the new cell phone company to keep my information secure. Do you have any experience (or advice) related to this issue?
 
If you can use it on your provider Calyx's OS supposedly focuses on privacy and security...
https://calyxinstitute.org/membership/calyxos
I can't vouch for them from my own experience as I have not participated in the REPOS or gone over the code, but from an organizational standpoint they have always been easy to work with and seem to stand behind their principles.

I am, of course, merely a sample size of 1 so that makes the reliability of this statement is either 100% or close to 0%, depending on your point of view...
 
Are cash prepaid disposable cell phones no longer a thing?

You may also be able to get a permanent VOIP phone number that you use an app to access (would need data/wifi to make calls on that number) but isn't actually attached to your cell phone... Only via the app. There used to be an internet phone service that did something similar with a dongle that connected to WIFI that you plugged your regular home phone line into.

Disclaimer: The above two comments are not necessarily related to one another. Sorry. Disjointed thought processes today.
 
For certain purposes (e.g. social security, financial, medical), I might like to have a second cell number (with a different company) which is only used for confidential purposes like my mysocialsecurity account, my retirement account and my doctors. However I wonder if I can trust the new cell phone company to keep my information secure. Do you have any experience (or advice) related to this issue?
Someone having your phone number and name isn't an actual security threat. Or address/email address for that matter.

You can get an extra phone number via various apps. I have used Google voice extensively and it works well. Others I know have used various services for extra phone numbers.

So my actual advice is this.
Make sure you have good malware protection on your phone and keep it updated.

If you have a Google account (Gmail, drive, or whatever you have a Google account) you can add Google voice to that account with very little hassle. Here is the support page with tutorial.
https://support.google.com/voice/answer/115061?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform=Android
It keeps everything on one device and simple. And it's free.
 
And Google is completely trustworthy. /sarc

When it's free, you are the product.

Slaves had free rides from Africa to the West Indies.
 
And Google is completely trustworthy. /sarc

When it's free, you are the product.

Slaves had free rides from Africa to the West Indies.
You can pay for similar services as well if you want.

Google is long past "Don't be evil". But you have to weigh the benefit vs cost. As long as you understand what the actual costs are, it's a choice. In my case, the information Google gets from me in exchange for services they provide is something I'm willing to deal with. They don't get much info from me, but they do try.

Using goes both ways. Ask Bill Withers.
 
Google is long past "Don't be evil". But you have to weigh the benefit vs cost. As long as you understand what the actual costs are, it's a choice. In my case, the information Google gets from me in exchange for services they provide is something I'm willing to deal with. They don't get much info from me, but they do try.
Cybersecurity person here, who does that for a living. Happy is right. Unless you have the knowledge and time to commit to it, going fully "stealth / gray man" in the digital world is a fool's errand. You'll also have to give up a lot of conveniences and functionality to do this.

For Android users, Google services are decent choices given the caveats. Apple's ecosystem is also pretty decent (that's what we use at home). I tend to trust Apple just a bit more, but both have had missteps and will again at some point. Just pick your poison and follow common sense procedures for your platform of choice.
 
Cybersecurity person here, who does that for a living. Happy is right. Unless you have the knowledge and time to commit to it, going fully "stealth / gray man" in the digital world is a fool's errand. You'll also have to give up a lot of conveniences and functionality to do this.

For Android users, Google services are decent choices given the caveats. Apple's ecosystem is also pretty decent (that's what we use at home). I tend to trust Apple just a bit more, but both have had missteps and will again at some point. Just pick your poison and follow common sense procedures for your platform of choice.
dhuff, I was an MCSE (back in the day) but I am not well versed on today's security problems for individuals. So... as a Cybersecurity Expert, I'd like to ask...

Assuming I don't believe or care if there is some global or US government conspiracy leading up to the Apocalypse, what should I worry about? I know I do not want anyone hacking my banking information. I keep a Chromebook set aside that I use for my banking and investments. I also keep it virus and malware protected as much as I can. I use a separate laptop entirely for everything else.

I just don't think I am all that interesting as an individual or worry about how some company learned I might be interested in buying Pink Flamingos. And if someone manages to "capture" my browsing computer and asks for a ransom, I'll probably just toss it and buy a new computer. What am I missing that so many people are worried about?
 
dhuff, I was an MCSE (back in the day) but I am not well versed on today's security problems for individuals. So... as a Cybersecurity Expert, I'd like to ask...

Assuming I don't believe or care if there is some global or US government conspiracy leading up to the Apocalypse, what should I worry about? I know I do not want anyone hacking my banking information. I keep a Chromebook set aside that I use for my banking and investments. I also keep it virus and malware protected as much as I can. I use a separate laptop entirely for everything else.
You got it right, IMH (and professional) opinion. Off the top of my head, here's what I suggest for most normal people, in no particular order:

  • If you run MS Windows, use a decent anti-virus/anti-malware app. MS Defender, which comes with Windows, is good enough. Mac, Linux, and ChromeOS users are generally fine in this regard. Just turn on all the security stuff in your web browser and heed its warnings.
  • Keep your systems patched and updated per mfg's recommendations.
  • Never use an "open" (password-less) wifi access point not under your control w/o using VPN software. I use NordVPN myself, which can run on any OS you're likely to have, incl. Android and iOS on mobile devices.
  • Just stay away from shady sites and activities on the Internet. Weird shopping sites that offer deals too good to be true, gambling, sketchy "download movies for free" places, porn, the "Darknet," etc... "Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas" as my grandma used to say :)
  • Resist the urge to install what look like "handy or useful" bits of free software w/o Googling them and reading reviews, warnings, etc... This is esp. important under Windows and Android.
I like your two laptops approach. Keeping a clean Chromebook just for banking, bill paying, and other business activities is going above & beyond, but it's a good idea. Chromebooks are also affordable, and are pretty well locked-down.
 

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