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T-Mobile Sidekick II
There's been a lot of press lately about the lack of cell phone security. What are the ways people access and/or sabotage a cell phone that's not theirs, and what can be done?
A: Mobile security has been a major news item lately, but it has been somewhat overblown. Take the story of party girl Paris Hilton and her T-Mobile Sidekick II, for example. Though it was widely reported that her Sidekick was hacked, the content was stolen from T-Mobile's servers and not from the device itself. Unless the culprit has the actual phone in his or her possession, it's impossible to hack into a mobile remotely. It's like hacking into a computer; unless that machine is connected to the Internet, you can't access it unless you're using it. Similarly, because a cell phone isn't connected to the Web as a computer is, you can't crack into it from afar. That said, it is possible to access Bluetooth phones via a method called bluesnarfing, but to do so, you need to be within 30 feet of the victim and have a Bluetooth-enabled PC.
You can take steps, however, to ensure your data is safe in the event your mobile falls into nefarious hands. Of course, you should start by assuming you will lose your phone at some point. With that in mind, don't store anything that you wouldn't want anyone else to see, including credit card numbers, bank account information, and other sensitive data. Also, be sure to use passwords to protect your phone book or the phone itself (this varies by handset), and if you have Bluetooth, turn off the Discoverable feature when not in use. Finally, if you have dishy text messages, nudie pictures, or Lindsay Lohan's phone number, it's better not to save them on your phone in the first place. And as for the Lasco virus that has afflicted some Symbian phones, the same rule you hold for e-mails applies here--don't open messages or attachments from someone you don't know.
I'm thinking of switching carriers. I was told by Sprint that only its phones work on its network. Is this true? Will other CDMA phones work?
A: While another CDMA phone would theoretically work on Sprint's network, Sprint would still have to activate it for use, and the company is unlikely to do that since it wants you to buy a phone from Sprint. Also, because CDMA phones do not use SIM cards, you simply can't pop in a new SIM to change the phone number and the network. You can certainly ask Sprint to make an exception, but I'm afraid your chances aren't good.
On a related note, it's not possible to take a GSM phone such as the Motorola MPx220 and transfer it to a CDMA carrier. The majority of mobiles are made to operate on one technology (CDMA, GSM, or iDEN) and one technology only. Switching between networks isn't an option. For more information on the different technologies, see our cell phone buying guide.
Q: Is there a cell phone that accepts more than one SIM card or an external device that allows a normal cell phone to use more than one SIM card?
What's your dream cell phone feature?
Sorry, Vance, but you're a bit ahead of your time on this one. Cell phones with dual SIM cards aren't offered by carriers in the United States. I assume you asked because you're interested in having two numbers on the same handset; unfortunately, that's not a possibility either at this point. Of course, you can switch between different phone numbers by swapping out two SIM cards, but that can be somewhat tedious. Alternatively, there are third-party adaptors for two cards and dual SIM phones are available in Europe. Similarly, CDMA carriers generally don't allow for two numbers on one phone. This is a great idea, though, and I hope it becomes a reality in the future.