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Stop secret spies, remove stalkerware, prevent SIM swaps and more: Tech Q&A

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.

Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.

This week, I received questions about how to stop secret spies, remove stalkerware, prevent SIM swaps and more.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Government spy app

Q: What is all this talk about an app being used by governments to spy on us? It’s shocking that these apps would be available in the app stores!

A: You may not know much about the United Arab Emirates, or even where to find it on a blank political map. Conversely, you may have heard wondrous stories about Dubai, that ultra-modern desert city with terraformed islands and indoor ski slopes.

Behind the glamour, the UAE government is pretty suspicious of its citizens, and it’s using a social networking app called ToTok to harvest data from everyday users. That’s not a typo, by the way. “ToTok” is different from “TikTok,” the popular video-sharing app, although they do have a few things in common, including conspicuously similar names. Tap or click here to read more about ToTok.

SIM swap attack

Q: Can you please explain what exactly is a SIM swap attack? I thought I heard you say hackers can take over my phone this way!

A: The name is a little misleading. A hacker doesn’t switch the SIM on your phone. Instead, the hacker uses an entirely different phone, walks into the storefront of a service provider and pretends to be you. The hacker claims to have lost or damaged a phone, and if the scam works, the hacker downloads all your information from the Cloud.

From there, the hacker can access your accounts and even drain your bank account. It’s a terrifying idea because you may not even know it’s happening until you’ve lost all your money and private information. Tap or click here for five ways to defend your phone against SIM swaps.

Keynote speech inquiry

Q: I read your blog about giving a keynote speech for NASA. That’s very impressive. Our company is hosting an event with 10,000 attendees who need your advice about cybersecurity, too. How can I get more information about your availability and rates?

A: I love a public engagement and being able to present to NASA — and alert them to such an urgent issue — was a great honor. I have served as a keynote at a range of events, from conferences to corporate functions.

Your specific interest in cybersecurity is of paramount importance, and this kind of presentation is a great way to motivate and enlighten a whole community at once. For you, or anyone interested in booking a keynote, drop a request through our website. Tap or click here to provide more details about your event.

End robocalls now

Q: I’m getting a ton of robocalls. Any way to make them stop?

A: I finally have some excellent news: carriers are cracking down. I want to exclaim, “What took you guys so long?” but better late than never. The simplest solution is usually to block a specific number, which works both for weird digits from faraway locationss and for “dummy” numbers that mask themselves with nearby area codes.

This tactic probably won’t work for “private” or unlisted numbers, which robocallers routinely use to confuse the recipient. Some of these strategies are free, while others cost small fees and may require separate apps.

Don’t expect to eliminate all robocalls for the rest of your life, but you can expect to drastically reduce the number of unwanted calls. Tap or click here to end robocalls if you are using AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

Dump stalkerware

Q: My ex is crazy. He seems to know a lot about my life, even though we no longer live together. What can I do to check for any trackers on my phone?

A: I hope you’re able to distance yourself from him soon. There’s the physical danger, of course; an ex who knows your movements can find ways to cross paths with you, which can lead to verbal abuse or even assault. But there’s also the invasion of privacy. The more an ex knows about your personal life, the more they can use this information against you.

All of this boils down to your own device: has your ex installed stalkerware on your phone, enabling him to spy on you? Such programs are designed to be difficult to spot, so you may have to do some detective work to make sure. Tap or click here for six signs that your phone has stalkerware.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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