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How to Use a Virtual Burner Phone to Protect Your Identity & Security « Null Byte :: WonderHowTo

Every time you make a call or send a text, you’re giving the recipient your phone number. in which can be quite the security vulnerability, opening yourself up to scammers, spammers, in addition to also the feds. In in which how-to, we’ll look at what a burner phone is actually, why you might want one, in addition to also how to get began using a free second phone number on your regular smartphone.

At the very word “burner,” people start envisioning their favorite spy drama or criminal thriller such as HBO’s The Wire, where we often see these phones used for a handful of calls before the actor yanks out the battery, breaks the SIM card in two, in addition to also throws the whole thing in a dumpster somewhere.

Image by bmartinseattle/Pixabay

A burner phone, or frequently just “burner” for short, is actually criminal jargon for a prepaid phone. A burner is actually intended to be used for a short period of time, or for a specific task (normally a nefarious transaction) in addition to also then “burned” (disposed of) when too many people develop the number.

How Burners Are Used

Criminals use these phones for quite a few reasons, such as how cheap they are in addition to also how hard they are to trace when used properly. Even the NSA can have trouble tracking them reliably because they can be purchased with cash. in which only works because mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) don’t require a cellular contract in addition to also don’t ask for any identifying information. When they do, they often don’t verify the idea. Thus, government agencies can’t go ask the phone company who you are because even they don’t know.

All mobile devices can be tracked while you are using the device. If you’re interested in how in which is actually actually done, you can read about how triangular phone tracking works.

The problem in which arises for those attempting to track you is actually twofold; Since the MVNO can’t tell them who you are, the idea becomes difficult to pinpoint which phone to look for. Even if they do figure out which number to look for, the idea’s very easy for you to reset the game by burning your old number in addition to also getting a fresh phone. You can do so without too much trouble since they normally only cost around $20.

Why You Need a Burner

Criminal use made burner phones notorious, however there are much more legitimate reasons one might want to have a burner phone. “Wait!” you say, “Hoid, I can just dial *67 before the number, in addition to also the idea shows my number as private on the additional end.” While in which is actually true, there are some major limitations to in which plan, with the biggest practical one being in which people can’t call you back.

Furthermore, in which doesn’t help when you need to publicly list your number for a job or some additional purpose, nor does the idea protect your privacy coming from the government or physical access to your phone. Additionally, we see the growing trend of our phones being targeted for confiscation in addition to also search, such as at US borders where we are currently seeing “digital strip searches.”

Border agents carry out these invasive searches without any warrant or even suspicion, going through text messages, social media accounts, in addition to also photos, while asking the owner about the people they are interacting with, their religious affiliations in addition to also travel patterns.

— Olivia Solon, The Guardian

With the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) telling The Guardian in which “searches of mobile phones by US border agents grew coming from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016,” there is actually a clear in addition to also imminent need to enhance the privacy of our mobile phones.

currently you have an option to maintain your privacy when you travel abroad or visit the US — leaving your regular smartphone at home in addition to also buying in addition to also a burner. Just throw the idea away before you go through customs.

Beyond in which, there are more mundane daily uses for a burner phone or second number. Take, for example, using the idea to separate personal in addition to also business contacts. In places such as Asia, the idea is actually common for people to have two phone numbers; one for work in addition to also one social situations.

Consider in which: while selling an old laptop on Craigslist, do you definitely want to put your phone number on the internet for everyone to see? Potentially getting spammed with texts in addition to also calls coming from all sorts of unknown people are just one of the risks of doing in which. having a burner, you can get a line just for Craigslist or even just in which particular transaction. Afterwards, just burn in which number once you sell your laptop. If you own several little businesses, you can have one number for each business, label them, in addition to also sound much more professional by answering “Joe’s hacking service” instead of “Joe speaking, errrm … what are you calling about?”

Imagine you meet someone on Tinder in addition to also maybe you like them, however you’re not quite comfortable giving out your real number or personal information yet. Using your burner phone means in which if they turn out to be crazy, clingy, or not getting the message in which you’re just not into them, all you have to do is actually, you guessed the idea, burn in which number. in which is actually especially valuable if your Tinder date is actually the kind in which knows how to search your number on Facebook, because if you’re not using a burner, you may have a Facebook stalker currently. Have fun with in which.

You probably get the idea by currently, burners can be a great tool for privacy in addition to also separate your work in addition to also personal life. Let’s take a quick look at the different types of burners.

Types of Burners

Two primary kinds of burners exist: physical in addition to also virtual. First, let’s look at the physical burner phone, which can be further broken up into two categories. There are phones locked to a particular MVNO’s service, such as TracFone, in addition to also then there are SIM cards in which can be inserted into an unlocked device.

The major difference between the two types of physical burner phones are the radio systems they are using for cellular communication. For CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), think Sprint in addition to also Verizon Wireless, in addition to also then for GSM (Global System for Mobiles), think AT&T in addition to also T-Mobile. You can learn more about CDMA vs GSM here. CDMA carriers mostly sell phones, in addition to also GSM carriers generally sell SIM cards, however, in which isn’t always the case. Straight Talk offers CDMA SIM cards, in addition to also all of the GSM carriers sell phones. What in which means for us is actually in which if we want to anonymously change our phone number, then we only have to replace the SIM card on a GSM device, however with CDMA, we have to burn the entire phone.

The second type is actually the virtual burner. In in which case, we use an application on our regular phone, in addition to also then thanks to some computer magic in addition to also servers, the app is actually able to route our calls in addition to also text through a different number. in which way, we can manage the idea as if the idea were a completely different phone. A few examples are Burner, Hushed, Sideline, Line2, in addition to also TextMeUp.

Don’t Miss: 5 Apps in which Let You Make Calls Without Giving Out Your Real Number

Some of those even have definitely useful extras, like self-destructing messages, in addition to also the ability to use multiple virtual phones. in which being said, they are less than perfect because of the connection to our smartphones, in addition to also the link to us in which they create. These apps are Great enough for many of the use-cases listed above, just remember to use a physical burner when you’re worried about the bigger threats, such as government tracking in addition to also going through the US border.

currently in which we’ve gone over the differences, let’s get began having a virtual burner in addition to also download the one in which has been within the game the longest — Burner.

Step 1: Install Burner

Burner is actually a mobile app, in addition to also as such we can find the idea in both Google Play Store for Android devices, in addition to also within the iOS App Store for iPhones. Once you’ve downloaded/installed the idea, we’re ready to move on.

Step 2: Sign Up

Once you install the app in addition to also opened the idea, you will be prompted to sign up. the idea’s unclear if your choice on the scrolling list has any real impact (work, dating, moving, volunteering, etc.) — the company probably just uses the idea for survey purposes — so put whichever you want.

currently, in which is actually where we hit the one real weakness in in which system, we have to give them our number to verify. After you enter your number in addition to also tap “Next,” you’ll get a text having a number. Open up the app again in addition to also enter in which verification number. Then, you’ll be greeted a mandatory terms-of-service agreement, in addition to also warning about 911 calls.

Do remember in which carriers are required to put calls to 911 through, regardless of in which phones status, which means you can use an old out-of-service phone to make an anonymous call to 911.

Step 3: Create Your First Burner

currently we get to make our very own burner number, going so far as giving us a choice of area code. A bit of a luxury, considering some people are paying tens of thousands of dollars for custom phone numbers. If you want to use an area code for a city in addition to also don’t know the idea off the top of your head, use AllAreaCode’s helpful tool to look up phone area codes.

For the lazy among you, here are some of the more favorite area codes:

  • Atlanta – 404
  • Austin – 512
  • Chicago – 312
  • Houston – 713
  • Las Vegas – 702
  • Los Angeles – 213, 310, 323
  • Miami – 305
  • fresh York – 212
  • Orange County – 949
  • San Fransisco – 415, 650
  • Washington, DC – 202

Note in which not all will be available. For example, I had to use 323 for Los Angeles, because burner didn’t have 310 numbers available.

When you create your burner number, your first 7 days are free, with 20 minutes of call time in addition to also 40 texts. After in which, you’ll have to pay, unfortunately. Luckily, the idea isn’t too much, only $4.99 a month for one line, having a free burn (number swap) every month. Just like in which, you currently have your own burner line.

Step 4: Create an Auto-Reply Bot with Evernote

Because you’re a diligent hacker, you get a little bonus currently. We’re going to take a quick look at how we can set up a simple bot using Evernote, one of the many apps Burner connects with. in which can be used to create chatbots in addition to also automate certain tasks on Burner.

First, open Evernote. If you don’t develop the idea, then you can go to Evernote or download the app on your smartphone coming from the Google Play Store or iOS App Store. Make a fresh notebook labeled “Burner.”

Each note in in which notebook is actually a command for our bot. The title is actually the command, in addition to also the body is actually our response. Try creating one.

On the Evernote app, the idea would likely look like in which.

Here, if someone texted the words “Wi-Fi” to the bot, the idea would likely return:

Network name: Null Byte
Password: L33tHaxorPass

With in which complete, open Burner in addition to also go to your settings. Look for Evernote under available connections, in addition to also tap on the idea. Authorize Evernote, in addition to also sign in as needed.

Once you’re signed in, change the active notebook to the one you just made, in addition to also update the “Auto-responder” header as needed. the idea should read the note titles automatically in addition to also list them as commands after you save by tapping the floppy disk icon within the top-right corner.

There you go, you have a simple bot! You can probably think of all kinds of uses just for in which. One example in which comes to mind is actually if you are an Airbnb host, you could make one for providing your guests with the Wi-Fi info, key location, in addition to also additional information. You could also set the idea to provide information anonymously to anyone texting the number.

One can easily imagine how powerful such a system could be using a more powerful chatbot, such as a social engineering bot with no direct connection to you.

Stay Tuned for More on Burners

In in which article, we learned how burner phones can be used to avoid being tracked in addition to also help maintain our privacy while creating texts in addition to also calls. We looked at the different types of burner phones in addition to also got began using a virtual burner on our own smartphones. In a future article, we will compare the different physical burner phone options in addition to also try to find the best coverage plan to use with the idea.

Cover photo by SADMIN/Null Byte
Screenshots by Hoid/Null Byte

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