This is follow-up to

Starting a new job after working at home for years. How to best protect data, secrets, and privacy in the workplace?

The answer to that question is

  • Follow company security protocol.
  • Never use a personal account on a work machine, ever...which means only on a personal device, and only over a cellular connection.


  • Bring a personal, cellular-only laptop to work (not necessarily safe, practical, or prudent)
  • Use a non-sensitive Dropbox account to transfer large files
  • So now I'll always have two phones in my pocket :(
  • What if you work for a cellular phone company? Is a contract with another carrier good enough, or should you expect that you are compromised? Do large corporations have their own cell towers that they can intercept traffic from an arbitrary carrier?

How do you practically manage this double life, when your personal computer is a limited iOS device?

  • It is impossible to answer, as every person wants different things from his/her personal machine. I guess your employer doesn't really care what device you use to goof on facebook in company time. What he'she is concerned is you doing work unrelated stuff in company time. – Agent_L Jan 11 '15 at 19:08

More and more people are using iOS devices as their only computers for several reasons. The popularity, expense, and maintenance costs have been outlandishly high for years now. My gf has gone through the iPhone 4 to 4S to 5 to 6 in the past 2.5 years -- and she does not own any other computers. She can't really afford them and always has a broken screen she is trying to save up money to replace. This is the new normal.

Can you use an iOS device for all personal computer needs? Certainly you can, and depending on your pocketbook, you can pick up accessories such as the ClamCase or apps described in books such as #iPadOnly. The first real post-PC book. How to use only your iPad to work, play and everything in between.

Can you secure a personal iOS device against nearly every drive-by threat? Yes, and this is very easy to accomplish if you have a few strong controls (e.g., 12-character-length mixed-case mixed-character password, never use public WiFi, leave Bluetooth and NFC off, never install unofficial apps, etc). Some of these have been described in the NSA hardening guides or via the Center for Internet Security benchmarks.

For protection against carrier networks, I agree that we put too much trust in them. SIM cards, just like USB and SDcards, have been known to contain spyware such as NSA implants (many countries can perform the equivalent). Some devices shipped with rootkit-like technology such as found in the CarrierIQ fiasco. Many cell towers utilize stingray technology (i.e., IMSI catchers), especially near malls, airports, and government buildings. In these areas, you will also find law enforcement use of automatic license plate recognition, facial recognition, and many other privacy-busting technologies. Perhaps these are only used to combat terrorist activity or child kidnappings. It is a bit presumptuous to think that these national security or localized law-enforcement technologies will ever be used against you personally, however, so most people tend to fight their overuse by way of the ACLU, the EFF, or other legitimate channels.

The technology that I use is simple: a data-only SIM card via the Straight Talk BYOT program. You call Straight Talk, order the SIM, and plug it into your GSM (preferably AT&T-compatible with LTE) device. If you are very concerned about your data, or have a specific need for your most-secure data, such as intellectual property (e.g., say you are working on a patent), then you might want to avoid cloud, virtual, and outsourced services. For example, you could setup a private infrastructure (e.g., ownCloud) and pay for insurance (techinsurance.com for the baseline, plus cyber insurance) to cover residual risk.

  • iPhone6 cost more than a regular computer. I think your gf is broke because she buys iPhones instead of a computer. – Agent_L Jan 11 '15 at 19:04
  • Agent_L: A lot of people are like her, I'm not excusing their behavior. They are marketed to in this way, too, though so it's not all their fault. She also pays into a family plan with 5 other people, but she ends up paying three times as much as I do and another person on her plan pays five times what I pay monthly. They like the simplicity, upgrades, and don't want to change. I can't change them, even with convincing evidence. – atdre Jan 11 '15 at 19:21
  • I do not condemn such approach (it might be necessary because of "friends"). But you make it look like "regular computers are more expensive than iOS" and this is the part I disagree. – Agent_L Jan 12 '15 at 10:48

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