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Ask HN: How can I make sure my phone isn't listening to me?

As well as other devices. I've unplugged my google home, but like many people, I have several devices with cameras and microphones in my house. What can I do to ensure they're not recording or listening to me?

8 pointsngngngng posted 4 months ago6 Comments
mdorazio said 4 months ago:

I think the answer here depends on how much trust you have for the different levels of tech in your phone. If you don't trust anything, the answer is install a hardware switch for the microphone or cover it with a sound blocker when you're not talking (just like if you don't trust your laptop's camera, put a piece of tape on it). If you trust the hardware, but not the OS, install something like Lineage to replace stock. If you trust the OS, but not the apps, uninstall any app that might have access to the microphone (especially "bad actor" apps like Facebook) and only use web versions.

danTheFounder said 4 months ago:

Hey man. I think you know the answer already - there is no way to make sure about it. It's the same questions as "How can I make sure that my software is not hackable". But are you going to live without any digital devices, probably not. Change your router password periodically, unplug devices when you don't use them, put tapes on cameras or deactivate them if not needed...I hope we can all own our own privacy. Unfortunately, it's impossible if you want to live in the modern society.

runjake said 4 months ago:

You can't.

If your baseband is pwnd -- and it is to some definition of pwned. The unit can appear off and still be recording.

Citation: The NSA document leaks.

markus_zhang said 4 months ago:

Just a thought, is there a way to capture all out-going traffic from one's phone at least when it's not been used?

Nextgrid said 4 months ago:

You can get SIMs from carriers that allow you to forward the traffic to a VPN server of your choice (often used in enterprise to make mobile devices part of the internal network without a battery-consuming on-device VPN client).

If you’re in the UK a company called Andrews & Arnold (no affiliation besides being a longtime customer & reseller) provides those out of the box with no setup fees and an “okay” price per megabyte of data. Otherwise get in touch with carriers but I think most of them would have a setup fee.