Saturday, April 30, 2011 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 10 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 10 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 30 Apr 2011 12:40 AM PDT


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. Why Apple Is Rich (Pic)
  2. Internet is out, I guess I'll just learn… (Pic)
  3. Pasta for Geeks (Pic)
  4. Child Slavery & Facebook Likes (Pic)
  5. Wifi Security (Pic)
  6. Fatal Error (Pic)
  7. I Heard Linux Is A Very Stable Platform (Pic)
  8. Hungry Printer (Video)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.


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Cool Websites and Tools [April 29th]

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here! – Most presentation tools online offer essentially the same service: letting you create PowerPoint-like presentations with each slide showing a chunk of information. "PresentMe" however offers that and lets you add a narrative to the presentation. Read more: An Online Tool to Give Your Presentations a Personal Touch


VocabGenii – Learning new words can be a pretty boring task, but with VocabGenii it becomes quite interesting and easy. VocabGenii is a tool that lets you expand vocabulary by playing different word games. You can choose from a multitude of game modes and difficulty levels. Each game tests your vocabulary and teaches you new words by challenging you. Read more: VocabGenii: Expand Your Vocabulary By Playing Games



Soundboard – If you are tasked with editing audio clips for a presentation or a podcast, you might need to fire up bloated sound editors that you don't know how to use. But if you must have some background music on a clip, then you should check out Soundboard. This simple desktop app lets you add multiple clips anywhere in your track easily. Read more: Soundboard: Add Sound Effects To Podcasts



Bitmate – By connecting peers, torrents offer us a quick way to download large files. But some users experience slow torrent speeds over their slow Internet connections. Here to boost those speeds is a torrent client called BitMate, a free torrent client for Windows computers. Read more: Bitmate: Boosts Torrent Speed Of Low-Bandwidth Users



HSL Color Picker – Graphics designers are always on the lookout for exciting new colors they can use in their projects. A number of sites let them experiment and create new colors for this purpose. One such site is HSL Color Picker, a free to use website that lets you create new colors using HSL codes. Read more: HSL Picker: Tool For Generating Colors By Changing The HSL Settings


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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The 9 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

Every Friday MakeUseOf Answers honors the Best Answer of the Week . Since the best answer is the most helpful answer, we rely on feedback. So if you received or found an answer that solved your question, please like it or leave a comment to say ‘thank you’. It also helps me picking the winners.

This week, we are honoring:

Best Answer of the Week – Mike

1st Runner Up – Smayonak

2nd Runner Up – Roy

Congratulations to the winners!

Questions in need for your expertise can come up anytime! Don’t miss out on your chance to win. All answers automatically enter the contest.

These are the best questions of the week:

MakeUseOf Answers can teach you a trick each day. Read, learn, and share by browsing the Latest Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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3 Tools For Managing Your Photos In Dropbox [Mac]

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 04:31 PM PDT

photos in dropboxRecently it was reported that the popular file sharing site, Dropbox, went from 4 million users to 25 million users in a little over a year. Dropbox is one of MUO's favorite free services (see our other articles here), simply because it enables users to quickly sync, access, and share your uploaded files from any Wi-Fi or 3G connected computer or supporting mobile device.

For us Apple iOS users, the Dropbox application is one of the best solutions for syncing images between your computer and one or more mobile devices. In addition, there are a couple of other iOS apps that picture-taking iPhone users will want to have as part of their mobile repertoire.

Dropbox 1.4 Features

One of the newest features in the recent Dropbox 1.4 update (iTunes Store Link) is the ability to upload multiple photos and videos from the Dropbox app on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. In previous versions, you could only upload one photo at a time. But now, in version 1.4, you can use a dedicated Uploads tab to export photos in your mobile library to your online Dropbox account.

photos in dropbox

This bulk upload feature is great for quickly backing up your photos on your mobile device. This can even be done over wireless 3G access. You simply click the Uploads tab in the menu bar of the Dropbox app; navigate to your Photos Album for the camera roll on your iPhone and individually select the photos you want to upload; and finally, click the blue Upload button. Done. Dropbox saves you the trouble of having to connect your Apple mobile device to your iTunes library in order to get photos and videos off your device and onto your computer.

If you need to better manage your Dropbox folders, check out these these two folder action tips for Mac users that will automatically move items from your Dropbox folders to a designated folder on your local computer.

Picbox – Upload Your Camera Roll To Dropbox

If you take lots of photos with your iPhone camera, you’ll know that Apple doesn’t make it easy for you to get those photos out of your Camera Roll and onto your computer. Well, although the latest version of Dropbox now has a bulk upload feature – as described above – another Dropbox related app, PicBox (iTunes Store Link), makes bulk uploading photos twice as fast.

manage photos online

With PicBox, you can upload all the photos on your iPhone to your Dropbox account with the tap of just one button. The images uploaded to your account will be put into a folder entitled “Picbox” and inside that folder will be another one consisting of your uploaded images. PicBox will even keep track of the photos you previously uploaded so you don't have to spend time figuring out which images you've already copied to your Dropbox account.

DropPics Lite

While it is quite easy to browse image files using the Dropbox app on your iPhone or other iOS device, another free app, the ad-supported DropPics Lite (iTunes Store Link) includes a few added features for browsing images on your Dropbox account.

manage photos online

DropPics is essentially a picture viewer that enables you to get a thumbnail and slideshow view of the images in your Dropbox, as well as move, copy, and delete them in your account. You can also view your images by date taken, name, or by random order.

There are a few restrictions to DropPics Lite (you cannot save pictures or upload them from your camera or photo library), but it's still a useful app if you regularly keep photos in your Dropbox account.

Let us know what you think of these applications. Are there other Dropbox related apps that you like? Let us know about them.

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5 Simple Applications That Let You Do More With Evernote

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 02:31 PM PDT

do more with evernoteWhen you test as much software as I do on a fairly regular basis, you tend to notice which apps you rely on and which ones fall off your radar after a while. Evernote, which is a handy note-taking and web clipping utility, isn’t necessarily one of those apps that I’ve been using regularly, but it is one that I keep coming back to again and again, and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate it into my routine.

Did you ever notice how the most popular apps & platforms have lots of additional add-ons and extensions that were created for them? Evernote is no different – check out the Evernote Trunk and you’ll see. In this article, I’ll show you a few of the simple applications that will help you do even more with Evernote.

1. Read It Later

do more with evernote

While it's easy to copy text from a website to read later in Evernote, Read It Later makes this process even easier.

Read It Later gives you an easy way to copy text from a website to read later in Evernote. The service’s bookmarklet makes reproducing the contents of a webpage simple with just the click of a button, and the iOS app comes with Evernote integration built-in. What’s good about that is it allows you to take your archive of pages on the go.

I also recommend you check out Instapaper, another great app that functions a lot like Read It Later.

2. FastFinga

Livescribe smartpens are great because they keep a digital record of the things that you write and draw with them, but if you don’t have one, FastFinga could function as a suitable replacement. This iOS app lets you write your messages by hand on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

You can link up your Evernote account and store the messages you’ve written there. The service’s handwriting recognition will transform what you’ve written into searchable text, which is really cool if you ask me.

3. Twipple

evernote apps

Twipple isn’t the most well-known or widely used Twitter client for iOS devices that’s out there, but it integrates with Evernote really well. With Twipple, your tweets can be saved to notebooks and tagged, allowing you to refer back to them later. This is especially useful considering Twitter Search only displays tweets for up to 2 weeks.

4. Twitter: @myEN

evernote apps

Okay, this isn’t an app as such, but I felt I had to include it here because it is very handy. @myEN, which Mark covered a while back, is a Twitter account that lets you save tweets straight into Evernote. Using this service is simple. All you have to do is follow @myEN on Twitter and you will be direct messaged a link that will let you link up your Twitter and Evernote accounts. Afterwards, just add @myEN to the end of the tweets you would like to save.

5. Voice2Note

do more with evernote

Evernote already allows you to record voice notes, but they aren’t searchable and you have no cut and paste functionality. With Voice2Note, however, you can convert audio notes into text to make them easily searchable. Simply connect your Evernote account and the first 30 seconds of your notes will be transcribed.


If you aren’t a fan of Evernote but you like the idea of a web clipping utility, be sure to check out Saikat’s article on the 5 best Evernote alternatives.

What are some of your favorite Evernote add-ons?

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Hot Tech Deals – Viewsonic Digital Photo Frame & More

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today, a lovely Mother’s Day gift idea — a Viewsonic digital photo frame; half off a SanDisk MP3 player, Sennheiser HD 202 II, and Linksys E2000 router; $220 off a 17″ Toshiba Satellite and more hot deals.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. WD TV Live Hub 1TB HDD Media Player $159.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKFHA45 (Exp 5/5)
  2. SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 8GB MP3 Player w/ FM Tuner, Voice Recorder $51.99 Free Shipping
  3. Samsung Star S5230 Cell Phone (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM) $96.99 Free Shipping
  4. HP Pavilion dm4t Intel Core i5-560M 2.66GHz 14in Laptop (6GB/500GB/Radeon 6370) $712 via code NB18893 (460 Uses only! Exp Soon
  5. Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7022 AMD Phenom II Triple Core P820 17.3in Laptop Blu-Ray $479
  6. Sennheiser HD 202 II Closed-Back Dynamic Bass Stereo Headphones $22.95
  7. Viewsonic VFD1027W-11 10.2in Digital Photo Frame (1024×600, 128MB Storage) $44.99 via code EMCKFHA34 (Exp 5/5)
  8. Epson MovieMate 62 3LCD Portable Projector w/ DVD Player (960×540) $449.99 Free Ship via code EMCKFHA39 (Exp 5/5)
  9. Linksys E2000 802.11n Dual-Band Wireless N Gigabit Router (DD-WRT) $59.99 Free Ship

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How To Hide Private Picture Folders From The Gallery [Android]

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

hide pictures androidWhen you’ve had your Android for a while, the amount of pictures on the phone build up. It’s not just your photos, either. It’s album cover art, pictures lazily stored by applications, and wallpaper. Pretty soon you realise your phone’s Gallery is full of these pictures that slow down the loading time. They probably don’t appeal to you much as pictures to browse in your Gallery anyway. It’s time to get rid of them.

Luckily, there’s a couple of really easy ways to stop folders from being incorporated into your Gallery. Pretty soon those pesky pictures will be hidden away from your sight where they belong.

hide pictures android

1. Hiding Folders From Gallery Using Gallery Application

Some types of Android phones have made it easy to remove certain folders from their Gallery by telling the Gallery itself not to load those folders. This can be useful, however the phone will still search for the photos on launching the Gallery, so this step alone doesn’t stop those photos slowing down your Gallery launch.

Hiding the folders from within the application also makes it easy to reveal which folders are hidden in the Gallery. So, if you’ve got some picture folders you’d prefer to keep a secret, you’d best have a go at one of the other methods instead.

hide pictures android app

2. Prefix Your Folder With A Dot

If the folder has a dot before the name, it will be automatically excluded from the Gallery. Gallery completely overlooks these folders, so it saves you time upon Gallery launch. Essentially, prefixing with the dot turns the folder into a hidden folder, so many applications will be unable to see the folder after the change — this includes some file managers. If you’re sure it’s okay to make the folder hidden, go ahead. If not, there’s another method we’ll go through shortly that you might prefer to use.

To rename your directories, use any decent Android file manager found in the market.

With Astro, a popular file manager, you need to hold the folder and choose “Edit” and “Rename“.

hide pictures android app

If you want to change the folder name to remove the prefix but you can’t see the folder, try using a different file manager. Or, you can use the Android SDK to view the file system on your computer and do it that way. If you need a guide to set it up, Ryan has detailed how to use the Android SDK in his article on screenshots for Android.

2. Place a .Nomedia File in the Folder

By placing a .nomedia file in a given folder, you’re telling Gallery not to load this folder while it scans your directory.

To create the .nomedia file, simply use a file manager to copy a text document to the folder. Open the file (pressing and holding will offer you a choice of apps to use) and delete the contents. Now rename the file to “.nomedia”.

hide pictures android

If this method is too cumbersome for you, there are apps specifically designed to create .nomedia files for directories of your choosing, such as StudioKUMA .nomedia manager.

Fixing More Android Stuff

So, you’re cleaning up your Android and working out how to do neat things with it? Well, you might like these articles too:

Which way to hide folders from Gallery did you find the easiest? The dot prefixed folder? Creating the .nomedia file yourself? Using a .nomedia app? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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How To Link To A Specific Part Of A Webpage & Share It With These Two Free Web Apps

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 11:31 AM PDT

link to part of a pageThere are some web apps that are completely unremarkable, but they surprise us with their utility. What if you wanted to send someone a specific part or line of a web page (instead of the entire page) as a link? A click on the link should then take the receiver directly to that specific part of the web page. Sound familiar?

Citebite and Awesome Highlighter are the web apps that satisfy our double requirements of simplicity and utility.

Yes, you might compare Citebite and Awesome Highlighter to some of the other bookmarking and annotating tools that are crowding the web each day. Most prominently, you can compare it with the online bookmarking Diigo. These two may not be killer apps just yet, but they have some things going for it. Let's dive into Citebite and Awesome Highlighter and see them in action.

An Example of Citebite in Action

Let's take a sample webpage and put Citebite through its paces. Here's a section that I liked from an article on Zen Habits that I wanted to share with some friends. All I have to do is  -

Select that chunk of text and past it in the first field on the Citebite page.

In the second field, copy-paste the URL of the webpage.

Click on Make Citebite to get the unique URL. As the screen below shows, this is what is displayed.

link to part of a page

Send it across to your friends. When your friends click on the Citebite link, it takes them to a cached version of the page on Citebite's own server. The important section is highlighted in yellow for reference.

how to link to part of a web page

The cached page preserves the entire webpage as it is and you can browse through it normally. The advantage of serving a copy of the original page is that even if the original page is removed or there is a downtime, you and your circle gets to view the page with the annotated chunk of information. You can bookmark this page as any other normal webpage.

Citebite makes available a bookmarklet and a Firefox extension that makes linking to a section of a webpage a quick one-two click job.

An Example of Awesome Highlighter in Action

Awesome Highlighter also lets you highlight specific part of a webpage and then gives you a link that points to it. But it goes a step further by also letting you register and save your highlighted pages. We have covered it before but it's worth a second look.

how to link to part of a web page

Enter the URL of the webpage and Awesome Highlighter displays the page with the highlighting toolbar on top. Use the pen to highlight the relevant passage and click on Done. You can also add a small note to the highlighted text for reference.

The automatically generated link takes you to the highlighted and annotated page.

link to part of a page

Awesome Highlighter also provides a Firefox Add-on and a bookmarklet. But it also gives us a few extras like the option to register and view all our highlighted pages. Plus, the stats page lets you know how many people viewed your marked text.

Awesome Highlighter also makes it easier to share with the options as shown in the screen.

Uses of Citebite and Awesome Highlighter

Using the highlight and link function straight from your browser, you can quickly share relevant sections with others. It's a time-saver for collaborative teams.

Highlighting relevant portions of long and text heavy articles and linking them turns them into quick and easy research tools.

Citebite and Awesome Highlighter can be used by educators and students for annotating and sharing parts of web pages.

These two free web apps could also be time-saving tools to highlight errors and typos on webpages. Instead of taking a screenshot or emailing the error, a direct Citebite link to the error could do.

Citebite and Awesome Highlighter are simple tools. But where would you place them in the wide and varied pantheon of annotation tools? Tell us about the tool you use to annotate web pages on the go.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Fix The Windows 7 Activation Countdown After Installing The SP1 Update

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

windows 7 fails activationWindows activation is a funny thing, because it only really seems to punish legitimate users. Like any form of Digital Rights Management (DRM), the software pirates have simple and quick ways to get around it, while regular users are left with complicated license keys and phoning Microsoft in order to use their software without limitation. Any form of DRM is an unwanted restriction in my opinion, and I won’t tolerate it.

If you had previously applied an activation hack to your Windows installation to get around that restriction, you may be shocked to find that the recent Service Pack 1 update from Microsoft nullified that hack and now Windows 7 fails activation. It is now giving you a warning and a countdown. Here’s how to fix that and activate Windows permanently again (without phoning Microsoft). We are publishing this information to help those of you who find yourself in this situation.

Note: does not condone the use of unlicensed software under any circumstances. It is your responsibility to ensure you own a correct license key for every copy of Windows you own. If you choose to remove the DRM and activation procedures from your legally-purchased software, that is your choice.

windows 7 fails activation


windows 7 activation overrideSince previous activation hacks have been patched, you’ll need to use the newest piece of software. HAL7600 will work in most cases to completely activate your Windows 7 to “genuine” status and remove the unnerving countdown. However, there are a few requirements and issues if you’ve previously patched your system.

Start by downloading the latest HAL7600 from a reputable torrent site (and check the comments first) or from the creator’s forum thread. Be wary of any other download locations given by Google, as it’s common practice now to plant malware instead of popular utilities (like VLC). The latest version at writing is 1.2.


Like any hacks to core Windows files, the utility will be detected as generic malware by any virus detectors. You need to disable any virus protection you have (including Windows Defender, Security Essentials, or third party apps like Sophos or Norton) in order to continue. Some previous hacks also need to be uninstalled before using this one, such as Chew-WGA, Chew7, IR4, RemoveWAT, Daz's Loader, and any other loaders or BIOS mods.

After doing those steps, be sure to run a quick repair on core system files by typing in the following command from an elevated command-prompt. To get an elevated command prompt, locate All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt and right click, then select Run As Administrator. Give permission to run, then type in:

sfc /scannow

This will return any key files to their original state.

Install .Net v4

.Net is a an app framework from Microsoft that you need to run HAL760 (ironic?). If you don’t have it, download and install it from Microsoft first. If you’re unsure, just try running the app anyway – it will give an error if you don’t have it installed already.

Run HAL7600 & Finish Up

The installation process is one click, but your computer will need to restart afterwards, after which you should have a happy genuine system with no countdown. Let us know if it worked for you in the comments. Also, let us know how you feel about DRM. Are you a software developer who feels it’s a necessity or do you trust your users?



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Exchange Secure & Encrypted Emails With VaultletSuite

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

free secure emailsLast week, as I was working through writing applications for my website, I came across a unique situation that I’d never faced before in my life. One of the applicants was a reporter living and working in a country with a very rigid dictatorship and ironclad control over all Internet traffic in and out of the country. She was willing to provide unique insight into social events going on inside the country, but arranging for the delivery of those stories would be complicated by government monitoring and filtering of Internet traffic.

So I went out in search of some kind of free secure email solution that would at least provide a line of communication that was secure enough so that if anyone wanted to see what we were discussing, they’d at least have to put quite a bit of effort and resources into it. As always, I checked MakeUseOf first. We’ve got great coverage of secure communications, such as Jorge’s article on FireGPG for Gmail, OneTimeMessage for secure and self-destructing emails, and Tina’s useful list of 5 online encryption tools.

All useful, but nothing quite offered the 2-way secure and encrypted line of communication that I needed. After a fair amount of searching, I came across a free app that fit the bill called VaultletSuite.

Set Up A Secure Line Of Communication

A secure two-way connection is a tall order when you’re dealing with a highly-funded military complex that surely has decryption software the likes of which you could only imagine. With that said, that doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park to decrypt well-encrypted email correspondence. So setting up a secure way to communicate is well worth the effort.

With VaultletSuite – or VaultletMail, which is the tool within the suite I’ll be focusing on – once you install the software, just click to log in, and then click on the link on the login page to set up a new account. In just two or three “Next” clicks, you’ll find yourself staring at your brand-spanking new, highly secure webmail account.

free secure emails

For the most secure connection, both people should sign up for a VaultletMail account, and both people should install the software. According to its about page, the software uses a 2048 bit RSA public key as well as 256 AES encryption to send messages, and it is capable of doing so in multiple languages. While the software won’t protect you from a keylogger you may have on your PC, which will pass along your password you used to log into VaultletMail, the system will protect you, for the most part, from individuals trying to intercept and extract information from your Internet communications.

When you’re composing a VaultletMail email to a friend that has an account in the system, you have several options for further security. The padlock button says it will “protect messages” before sending them to recipients outside the VaultletMail system. How can that possibly work?

secure emails

This is actually an integrated tool called SpecialDelivery. The SpecialDelivery system will send your intended recipient an initial email, which they must respond to by choosing a passphrase that will protect all encrypted  messages you send them. After they’ve accepted your initial email and set up their passphrase, you can send them encrypted emails any time and the communications are secure.

The software also has the ability to prevent the recipient from forwarding, quoting, copying or even printing out the email.

secure emails

The coolest feature as far as I’m concerned is what I call the “self-destructing message” tool. Click on the little clock icon in the menu, and you can decide now long the message will stay available in their Inbox after they’ve viewed it, and you can also limit the number of times it can be viewed.

For an added James Bond touch, add a sentence to the end of your email that reads, “…and this message will self destruct in 30 minutes.”

secure emails

You can also configure how the sent message itself is stored in your own mailbox. If you’re sending  a message that you don’t want anyone at all to read other than the recipient, you can just set a very short life to the email, and then click “Do not keep Sender’s copy” in the options menu for ScopeControl and HalfLife.

how to encrypt and secure your emails

Another feature for some added privacy – if you’re sending the message to a VaultletSoft recipient, you can make yourself anonymous by selecting “” in the “From” dropdown list.

how to encrypt and secure your emails

Here’s a good example of a secure email in the inbox, with no sender listed and a self-destruct time of 31 days.

free secure emails

If you live in a region of the world where Internet communication is regularly intercepted, using this encrypted system as your regular email service would be a very smart idea. At the very least, it will make it very difficult for the government to access your traffic, and nearly impossible for an amateur to view it.

Give VaultletSuite a try and let me know whether you agree that it’s one of the easiest email encryption systems in the world. Do you like the features? Is there anything you’d change or add? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The Rise Of Smartphone Snooping & How To Check For It

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 08:31 AM PDT

smartphone snoopingSnooping on computers has been a problem for decades. The so-called Trojan Horse, malware that gives a hacker access to a PC without the owner’s permission, has been around since the 80′s. Keyloggers are another area of concern, and have been given some attention in the popular media from time to time. But whatever you call it, snooping on a PC is an accepted risk, and one users often look out for.

But what about your smartphone? Modern devices are essentially tiny PCs that also make phone calls, and the potential negative effects of Smartphone snooping could be much worse. Smartphones transmit location data and store lists of everyone you know, along with their phone numbers. Obviously, this information shouldn’t be in the wrong hands, but what can you do to prevent Smartphone snooping?

Monitor Permissions Carefully (Android)

smartphone snooping

If you’re using an Android smartphone you’ll be presented with a list of permissions every time you install a new app (iPhone users can move on to the next section). The permissions lists, in detail, the functions the app is looking to access on your phone. They range from fairly innocuous things such as SD card read/write access to more ominous features like the ability to read and edit your contacts.

I’d like to have a fast-and-easy rule for permissions, but there isn’t one. My best advice is to make sure the permissions make sense for the app. An app that enhances your contacts will obviously need access to contact data. That makes sense. But it might not make sense for the app to have access to your precise GPS location, unless there is some feature that requires it. If you’re hesitant, but you really want the app, try checking out the developer’s website or contacting the developer directly. Many will provide you with the reasons why their app needs various permissions.

Don’t assume that an app is on the level just because it is popular. Pandora, for example, was recently accused of acquiring data about users (including location, birthday and sex) via its app and then sending that data to ad servers.

Use A Data Monitor

detect smartphone snooping

One of the most obvious indications that something may be seriously wrong with your smartphone’s security is a sudden increase in data usage. Theoretically, malware and other Smartphone snooping software can do all sorts of things with your device without your knowledge. One recent proof of concept suggests that smartphone botnets could be just around the corner.

A data monitor can help you keep tabs on your data usage. There are too many such apps to do an in-depth review of them here. Personally, I like the RadioOpt Traffic Monitor for Android, but your mileage may vary.

It’s also wise to occasionally check your data usage through your carrier. Although a traffic monitor should discover any problems, it always possible that a threat could find a way to disguise itself. You should also consider an SMS text message monitor, if one is available for your mobile OS.

Install A Remote Phone Tracker & Data Nuker

detect smartphone snooping

As I’ve mentioned when discussing laptop security, physical theft of a mobile device can be a real security issue. Smartphones are even worse, because they’re easy to lose track of, and most users don’t even protect their device with a passphrase. It would be trivial for someone to access data on a phone once they have the physical phone.

However, smartphones do have an advantage over laptops. Virtually all of them have GPS, which means that it is easy to obtain the precise location of the device if it goes missing but remains turned on. In addition, smartphones have data connections that are always on unless specifically turned off, which means it is easy to send a remote wipe command.

There are multiple Android apps that offer this functionality – we recently looked at one example, called Mobile Defense. Apple’s iPhone offers similar functionality through the Find My iPhone feature.

Consider An Antivirus App

smartphone snooping

The antivirus field for mobile devices is still immature. Apple doesn’t even allow antivirus software on the iPhone, while Android’s antivirus market is saturated with lots of apps, many of which have frankly questionable credentials.

Even so, a quality antivirus app could have some use. At the very least, it should be able to point out phone settings that  could compromise your security, and many antivirus apps bundle phone trackers as well. Antivirus should also be very effective, at least theoretically, because the app market used on mobile devices serves as a gateway to software. This makes it harder for malware to reintroduce itself into the app ecosystem once it is discovered.

The problem is that no one seems to know how to test these mobile antivirus apps yet. There’s no definitive, objective source providing data on mobile antivirus effectiveness. Also, mobile devices – Android in particular – are ripe for fakeware attacks. Fakeware is a so-called antivirus program that actually is spyware or malware, but fools users by providing fake reports claiming the app has found and addressed security threats. I suggest doing a lot of research on any antivirus app before installing it.


Smartphone security is a topic that has just recently become an issue. As smartphones become more powerful and popular the malware targeting them will certainly increase. That’s just the way of security – if something is worth stealing, someone will probably try to steal it.

Don’t take this as scaremongering, however. The steps above will help protect you, and with vigilance, you should be able to side-step any problems.

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