With reports of Apple refusing to allow the CIA and law enforcement gain access into an alleged terrorist’s iPhone because doing so will allow others to gain a backdoor as well as raise eyebrows from the developer communities and technology enthusiasts worldwide. However, it’s not just Apple that has brought the attention of millions of smart phone users, android devices have also long been under scrutiny for leaking excessive personal information to unwanted recipients.
Smart phones are an extension of our personal lives. From fingerprint data, retina scans, our bank account statements, friends and family contacts and very personal photographs, anyone with access to your smart phone would gain access to your personal life tremendously. The same information in the hands of hackers would result in identity theft beyond imaginable – and possibly risking losses of surmountable figures while also risking your privacy. For a CEO, entrepreneur, an employee or even a regular working person, this can mean the loss of a significant part of their life.
Here are several ways where your Android smart phone is accidentally leaking more information than you’d desire:
Access your last few locations without your consent
Android devices continually send out the names of Wi-Fi networks that they have previously connected to. A phisher can create a seemingly legit connection of a public Wi Fi like star bucks or McDonalds, and once your device connects to it, it is easy for him to read your previously connected Wi-Fi spots. This can seriously raise the chances of stalking and dodges one’s right to privacy.
- Solution: Clear Wi-Fi network list frequently.
- Use a firewall or a protection app t-hat prevents unwanted connections, such as Wi-Fi PrivacyPolice.
Apps reveal more than you’d be comfortable with
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, and Carnegie-Mellon universities studied 110 apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. They found 73% of the Android apps shared users' email addresses, and 47% of the iOS apps shared location data.
The researchers noted data looked for transmissions that included personally identifiable information, behavioral data such as search terms and location data.
Solution: Use a firewall or VPN network or a proxy that forges your information submitted to apps.
Ads can steal your personal information
A new study by the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, reviewed the accuracy of personalized ads that were served to test subjects.
Researchers also found that, based on ads shown, a mobile app developer could learn a user's:
· Gender with 75 percent accuracy,
· Parental status with 66 percent accuracy,
· Age group with 54 percent accuracy, and
· Could also predict income, political affiliation, marital status, with higher accuracy than random guesses.
Solution: Manually opt-out of ad networks from your most frequently used ads. When Apps ask your permission to get information from your lists, opt out of as much as possible. Check setting of the app and uncheck to as many options as possible.
Metadata reveals photographs history
When you click a photograph on a smart phone, it is also storing a lot of information of the place of the click, the time, and other bits of personal information along its metadata. If you send a photograph directly from your smart phone to someone via email or Bluetooth, you’re also sharing this metadata.
One simply has to use the hundreds of metadata extraction websites to find out your exact geo location through this metadata and this could be a serious privacy risk.
Solution: Try using a metadata eraser software, or switch off location services for your camera and photographs. Else, use a third party software before you share photographs, which will neutralize metadata (since metadata is only stored for the last location)
A phishing attack is a website designed to emulate an otherwise trusted website very closely, on a quick glance, it would use the same color schemes, designs and text elements and formatting to trick the user into thinking they’re on the real website. You can inadvertently reveal even your credit card information and passwords for your safe networks!
Solution: Use a firewall or anti-virus that filters out such spam. Also keep a vigil eye for anything suspicious when you’re sending personal information over cellular networks. Check the URL of the webpage carefully before typing personal details, and prefer HTTPS connections over HTTP connections.
How much do you actively care of your personal information on the web leaking through your smart phone? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page, Entrepreneur India.