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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Have you ever wondered how mobiles are capable of rendering website so perfectly on such small devices and most important of all, it is safe as though you are using your PC.

I decided to investigate on this mobile browsing technique and user security (privacy).

My Test Environment

I currently have two phones in hand. My iPAQ running Windows Mobile 6.1 and a Blackberry Gold. Both devices are connect to my internal Wifi with a public address. (obtained by browsing to http://www.myipaddress.com)

myipaddesswifi

Once i setup both phones to connect to my internal WiFi i opened both mobile phone browsers and browsed to the same site mentioned above on each phone respectively.

Note: Since IE cannot render websites correctly on the iPAQ, I installed Skyfire as a browser . (www.skyfire.com) On the other hand, the Blackberry is black box and the software is proprietary –  meaning that such software has been produced specifically for BlackBerry and no further information is available.

The result:

HP iPAQ Windows Mobile 6.1 –  Skyfire

IP Address: 212.118.x.x

BlackBerry Bold

IP Address: 93.186.x.x

What in the hell are these IP Addresses?

Good question, a trace route reveilles more information.

Trace HP iPAQ (Skyfire) IP Address:

trace02

Trace BlackBerry IP Address:

trace01

What does this mean?

This means that mobile phones browsers, route all traffic through a proxy service which converts the actual web page  (which was designed for a regular PC screen) to a mobile phone screen. Without this proxy service, it would not be possible for a common phone browser to handle such web pages, especially since websites have evolved from the days of basic HTML.

Does this mean that every web page I view is going through a third party?

Yes indeed. Hold your horses before you start to freak out. With Skyfire, you are told that there is this third party which handles the connection but customer’s privacy is guaranteed. With Blackberry i do not know. *honestly* I happened to stumble across this test to  clear my suspicion and i was hoping that since Skyfire is a freeware, such work around is acceptable  –  but for BlackBerry  – i not sure if i am pleased with this solution. Well, given that there seems no other method for such good website rendering (since BlackBerry also adopted this method), i guess we would have to lump it.

I did not bother browsing to the BlackBerry website to check if the we are informed of this technique. I was expecting that the first time the browser is opened on the blackberry, the user is notified of the third party you are about to connect to. Once you accept this, you may proceed with your happy internet mobile browsing.

So next time you think of viewing any naughty things on your mobile phone –  including facebook or email, remember that there is a third party recording every move but thanks to the Data Protection Act, you are safe! *for now*.

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