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Mobile

Mobile phones are insecure devices, but they're regarded as being so essential to modern life that telling people not to use them isn't a viable option. Here are some recommendations on setting up a mobile phone (aka "smartphone") to work with Freedombone.

Open


Use a free and open source operating system. Open means more trustworthy

Remove


If there are any proprietary apps then remove or deactivete them

Encrypt


Make sure your phone is encrypted with a password which isn't easy to guess

Apps


Use F-droid to install new apps

Lock


Enable a lock screen with a maximum number of password guesses

Onion


Onion route your connections to avoid bulk metadata collection

ssh


Set up ssh access to Freedombone

Services


Connect to the Freedombone services

Battery


Avoid battery-eating apps

Open

Use a Linux based phone operating system. Typically this will mean Android, but could also mean Cyanogenmod or Replicant. Cyanogen is the most preferable, because you can usually get an up to date image with a recent kernel which will give you better security against exploits. If you're buying a phone then look for a model which is supported by Cyanogenmod. Replicant is the most free (as in freedom) but only runs on a small number of phone models. If you have a phone which runs a full GNU/Linux system then that's fantastic, and you can probably use it in much the same way as a desktop system and the rest of the advice on this page won't apply. If you don't have a phone capable of running a Linux based operating system then consider selling, giving away or bartering your existing one.

Why is it so important to run Linux on a phone? Aren't iThings supposed to be highly secure? Isn't the CEO of Apple a good guy, fighting for freedom against the evil Feds? In the end it comes down to the fact that if the source code for the device cannot be independently audited to check for backdoors, bugs and so on, then it can't actually be trusted. No matter how well-meaning or brave people running companies may be, local laws may force them to add backdoors into their systems or to give away the encryption keys (Lavabit) or they may also do that purely for business reasons such as being able to sell you to their advertising customers and so on.

Remove

So maybe you're running Android and the phone came with some apps already installed. Almost certainly they'll be proprietary. Go to Settings/Apps and then uninstall or deactivate any apps which you really don't need. Mostly preinstalled apps are intended to send your data to companies who will then sell it to advertisers or governments under the business model of surveillance capital. It's not a good idea to get caught up in that, and to avoid becoming addicted to apps which are surveilling you without consent or installing spyware in the background without your knowledge.

Encrypt

Encrypt your phone. This can usually be done via Settings/Security and you may need to fully charge the phone first. Encryption means that if you lose your phone or it gets stolen then there is less chance that anyone who picks it up will get access to your data, photos and so on.

Apps

Installing F-droid and only adding any new apps via F-droid will ensure that you are always using free and open source software. Open source is not a panacea, since bugs can and do still occur, but it will help you to avoid the worst security and privacy pitfalls.

Lock

Add a lock screen, preferably with a password which is not easy for other people to guess or for quicker access with a PIN number. Install an app called Locker, activate it and set the maximum number of password guesses to ten (or whatever you feel comfortable with). If bad people get hold of your phone then they may try to brute force your lock screen password or PIN (i.e. automatically trying millions of common word and number combinations) and the locker app will prevent them from succeeding by resetting the phone back to its factory default condition and wiping the data.

Onion

Both governments and corporations want to compile matadata dossiers about you. Who you communicated with, when and how often. They want this so that they can data mine, simulate, predict and then ultimately influence (sometimes also called "nudge") your actions and preferences in the directions they prefer. By routing your connections through a number of proxy servers (Tor routers) you can make it perhaps not theoretically impossible but at least very hard for them to have a complete and accurate list of who your friends are, your religion, politics, likely health issues, sexual orientation and what news sites or books you read.

In F-droid under the repositories menu you can enable the guardian project, and then install Orbot. Within subsequently installed apps, such as those for XMPP chat, there is often a setting which allows the connection to then be routed through Tor. Also you can install OrFox and use that as your default browser. Within OrFox for the sites you regularly use you can add a NoScript exception via the menu.

ssh

The most secure way to access email is via an ssh connection and shell interface. This is not highly convenient, but it does keep your email and GPG key off of the phone which improves your security. If your phone is subsequently stolen then even if an adversary can get past the lock screen there are no emails stored on the phone. Install Connectbot, generate an RSA key of at least 2048 bits and give it a password. Copy and paste the ssh public key to a pastebin and then add it to home/myusername.ssh/authorized keys on Freedombone. Then add an ssh account for the Freedombone, using port 2222. Before you log in you will need to ensure that the ssh key is unlocked. If you lose your phone then you can remove that public key from authorized_keys and anyone in possession of the phone will no longer be able to get ssh access to your system.

This is a defense in depth approach in which there are multiple hurdles which any adversary must overcome in order to get access to your data in a typical theft scenario. So you have the phone encryption, the lock screen with maximum tries and the ssh key password.

Services

For information on configuring various apps to work with Freedombone see the usage section. Also see advice on chat apps in the FAQ.

Battery preservation

Even with free software apps it's not difficult to get into a situation where your battery doesn't last for long. To maximize battery life access RSS feeds via the onion-based mobile reader within a Tor-compatible browser and not from a locally installed RSS app.

If you have Syncthing installed then change the settings so that it only syncs when charging and when on wifi. Avoid any apps which might be continuously polling and preventing the device from going into sleep mode when it's not used.

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