When you think of smartphone security, you’re probably thinking about passwords and code locks to keep identity thieves (and just plain old thieves) out of your precious phone. While these measures are important, they’re not the only security issues you need to be aware of when it comes to caring for your smartphone. It’s recently come to light that numerous Apple and Android apps have secretly requested your permission to capture your geo-location – via GPS – so that they can tell exactly where you are whenever your phone’s GPS is turned on. This post takes a look at the dangers of geo-tagging and on staying secure on your smartphone.
The Dangers of Geo-Tagging
Alan Brill, senior managing director at Kroll Advisory Solutions, says “There’s a privacy concern; maybe you don’t want billions of people to know where you live.” Brill points out that geo-tagging technology can these days be used to embed your location into posts and photos that you upload to social networking sites, so hundreds of e-friends and strangers can access information about where you are at any given time by simply using EXIF interpreter software. There are some major concerns about safety and security when it comes to geo-tagging, especially where business or children are concerned.
Businesses which store geo-location data may at some point find themselves with a huge legal burden if the information becomes ‘sensitive data’ – which, as it stands, looks likely. Where children are concerned, it’s clear that social networking sites like Facebook are already frequently being used by under 16s. Given that the old chestnut ‘don’t tell strangers where you live’ has become redundant in a digital age, there is understandable cause for concern. All it takes is someone with a basic grasp of technology to extract the EXIF data from a Facebook photo and use it to work out exactly where the image was taken.The whole process can be completed in under two minutes.
Staying Secure on Your Smartphone
If you’re starting to get concerned about your own security, there are certain steps that can be taken to enhance your privacy.
You should make sure that your phone’s GPS is not enabled as standard, and is ideally turned off all the time unless you specifically need to use it. You should also be careful about what you download, since it’s apps that can have these permissions embedded in them. Who knows, if we all start to exercise more due caution instead of installing apps willy-nilly, perhaps developers will listen and stop embedding unnecessary geo-location tools into their apps. Of course, the biggest privacy issue occurs when we post photographs online which reveal our location. You can obviously avoid this by turning off GPS while you’re posting photographs, but it seems rather sad to think that we should even have to.
Surely a security issue which can effectively aid stalkers, perverts and criminals should not be taken lightly by smartphone manufacturers and software developers? Keep that GPS turned off for now – not only will it preserve your privacy, but it’ll preserve your precious battery life.
This guest post was written by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, a UK phone comparison website that has been saving people money for over five years.
Robert Koenig says
I never thought about the dangers of geo-tagging. This piece was enlightening. Sometimes it’s just easier to tag my location on a photo rather than writing it out.