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[liberationtech] New Mobile report / Safety on the Line: Exposing the myth of mobile communication security

Robert Guerra rguerra at
Thu Aug 2 14:41:46 PDT 2012

Thought this newly released report might be of interest to the Liberation Tech community...

Safety on the Line: Exposing the myth of mobile communication security

Executive Summary

This report evaluates the risks and vulnerabilities of mobile phone services and apps in 12 specified countries: the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, the People’s Republic of China, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Libya, the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Tunisian Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Rather than focus on a single innovation, this study analyzes multiple mobile technologies – including operating systems, applications and mobile protocols – to determine their capacity to protect security and privacy and to combat censorship and surveillance. Throughout this study the protection of mobile phone users was of paramount importance.

This project was managed by Freedom House and supported by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

This study is divided into several sections. The Introduction outlines this research initiative and its methodology. It also justifies the need to focus attention on specific mobile phone environments. The Background section provides a comprehensive description of mobile phone technologies with particular emphasis on smartphones. Technical Testing outlines an analysis of the five primary platforms for smartphone usage: Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, Microsoft Windows Phone, and RIM BlackBerry OS. A Threat Assessment analyzes security and privacy challenges facing citizens who own and use a mobile phone, as well as obstacles confronting mobile internet users. The assessment confirms that various platforms can be used to overcome some threats particularly when blocking and circumvention technology is used. The Country Profiles evaluate 12 countries predetermined by the BBG for investigation. Data points in the analysis include the most recent key performance indicators for each national mobile market, various mobile operators, the range of handsets in use and the scale of mobile penetration for each country. The report is completed with a short section of Findings and a list of Recommendations for the future.

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