Protecting Your Cell Phone “from a banking threat”

Kurt Knutsson has a Fox News article centered on protecting Android cell phones from malware that bypasses Android’s Restricted Setting Feature to steal, among other things, a user’s banking app PIN. It’s well worth reading and taking appropriate action, given that so many users have so many have banking (and other) access apps on their cells.


Knutsson missed, in his article, the larger solution, or perhaps he deliberately elided it given how easy it is to use a cell phone—Android or other—to do things besides make and receive telephone calls or to exchange text messages.

FISA and Search Warrants

The House Judiciary Committee is moving to seriously revamp FISA, the Act that was set up to deal with    widespread privacy violations by the Federal government during the Nixon administration.  It was intended to enable the government to surveil foreign persons and to limit the government’s surveillance to those foreign persons, and it includes a secretive and secret court to enable issuance of search warrants supporting that surveillance. The Act was promptly abused by the FBI and the Feds’ intelligence agencies to spy on us ordinary Americans, also, most recently during the runup to the Trump administration and continuing throughout that term, and since.

Boosting my WiFi Signal at Home

Kurt Knutsson has some ideas for doing this. Luddite that I am, I question a couple of his going-in assumptions, at least as his suggestions apply to my case. Start with his subheadline:

Fix deadzones, speed up slow spots, and make your wireless internet signal reach farther

I have an ordinary-sized, one-story, wood frame, single-family home. I don’t have deadzones or slow zones (I’ve walked signal-assessors around my house). I don’t want my WiFi signal to reach farther, either; that would take the signal even farther outside my house, even farther past my city lot boundaries, making it even easier for wardrivers to capture, or for others to (try to) piggyback off my WiFi Internet connection (despite the several security precautions I’ve taken).

Wrong Way to Punish the FBI?

The Wall Street Journal‘s editors are concerned that doing away with FISA’s Section 702 would be the wrong way to punish the FBI.

I agree. But the editors are missing the point. They too narrowly justify 702 with this:

Congress created Section 702 after 9/11 to address intelligence-gathering gaps. It lets the government collect information without a warrant on non-US citizens living abroad.

A Valid Beef, But….

It seems the FBI—in its ongoing rogue-ness as a Federal government institution—obtained individual bank records of individuals about whom they had some curiosity without the nicety of the legally required court orders.

Legal experts are criticizing the FBI for allegedly obtaining the financial records of US customers with Bank of America “without any legal process” following the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.


The allegations about subpoena-less bank-records gathering were included in a staff report from the full, GOP-led House Judiciary Committee that was released about an hour ahead of Thursday’s hearing.

From that report:

Lose Your iPhone…

…and lose your data, along with access to your financials. For instance,

thieves who stole [one man’s] iPhone 14 Pro at a bar in Chicago wanted to drain cash from his bank account and prevent him from remotely tracking down the stolen phone. They used his passcode to change [his] Apple ID password. They also enabled a hard-to-find Apple security setting known as the “recovery key.” In doing so, they placed an impenetrable lock on his account.

Data Protections

A couple of Letter writers in The Wall Street Journal‘s Letters section had concerns about a potential ban of People’s Republic of China-domiciled ByteDance’s TikTok.

I disagree with their concerns.

A TikTok ban isn’t the solution. It won’t protect our data privacy, it won’t protect children from the dangers of the internet, and it is a blatant violation of First Amendment rights.

No one is masquerading banning TikTok as the solution; that’s a strawman argument. Much more needs to be done to protect our data privacy and our children—and our intellectual and technology property—but banning TikTok is a useful step. Nor is banning it a violation of anyone’s 1st Amendment rights. No one’s speech would be barred, only a tool of the PRC would be barred.

FISA Revamp

Congress may be moving to revamp the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which among other things, creates a secret Federal court that empirically allows the Federal government to spy on American citizens in the United States—one of whom was a representative of citizens of Illinois whom they had elected to Congress—without a warrant.

[Congressman Austin, R-GA] Scott said lawmakers on the committee want to address who in government can query the database, who can be targeted and who must sign off on such warrantless surveillance. He also suggested there is some support for adding lawyers to the secretive process to help defend the rights of Americans who are being surveilled without their knowledge.

Passcode Vulnerability

The subheadline of a Wall Street Journal article on cell phone security vulnerabilities presents the subject of my post.

The passcode that unlocks your phone can give thieves access to your money and data; “it’s like a treasure box”

The article then laid out the problem:

Dehumanizing Babies

Florida has a law (HB5, Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act) banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Florida’s Governor DeSantis (R) has characterized the law as

protect[ing] babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have sued, claiming that the ban violates the Florida Constitution. The Florida Constitution, Art I, Sect 23, grants a right of privacy to every natural person. The only part of the Florida Constitution that directly addresses abortion is Art X, Sect 22, which authorizes the State’s legislature to enact laws requiring notification of a minor’s parent or guardian prior to termination of the minor’s pregnancy.