App Access: Life Invasion

Josh Henry

Life Invasion: Your Privacy

A problem that has been occurring for years is finally generating concern. 77% of Americans own smart phones. Majority of those people make the mistake of allowing apps such as Facebook to gain access to their camera roll. It all seems innocent until your private photos start trending and get into the wrong hands.

The Facts on App Access

Facebook recently (again) posted that 6.8 million user accounts were breached. They sent messages to the accounts that may have been affected. Permission for apps to access vital contents of your phone that threaten your privacy is only a click away. Some say that it is over simplified. A pop up appears and you hit allow. That’s all there is to it.

Full Access

Camera access isn’t the only issue. Microphones, camera roll, location, calendar, contacts,  speech recognition and motion sensors are accessible to apps when you hit “allow:” Think about the all the information that an everyday app like Facebook has access to. When you record a live video they ask for permission to access your microphone. All of a sudden you open yourself up to be listened to at any time throughout the day.

Scary Sophistication

Through recent news and studies light has been shed on how the sophistication of smart phones and IOT devices can be used against us. Here is where it gets ere. This year’s IEEE European Symposium on security and Privacy released information stating 234 Android applications have ultrasonic listening technology built in.

The Secret Sonar

When an app accesses your microphone, it may be having secret conversations in your pocket with the world around you. The use of beacons, or high pitched sounds that are undetectable to human ears, are becoming more popular. These beacons are being used by stores to ping your phone and record your movements for marketing purposes. A German study showed that of 35 stores, 4 were sending beacons to track your movements.

Permanent Pocket-Dial

Everyone Has experienced the dreaded pocket dial. Think of this as the same thing on a much larger scale. Stanford University has created an app to distinguish sounds and capture certain acoustics such as the human voice to show how easily we can be spied on. Although you may think that Facebook doesn’t care what your saying or what is going on in your life. Your wrong. Everything regarding data has value and will be sold for marketing purposes. Facebook’s year in cybersecurity reveals how much of a disaster they are when it comes to protecting data. What makes you think they are more careful with your microphone?

When will we act?

The Edward Snowden debacle briefly made cybersecurity a focal point for citizens. It opened up the realm of possibilities we rarely thought of prior. One thing to keep in mind is that hackers and government officials are on a level playing field in cybersecurity. Some would say that hackers have the advantage. Whatever you believe the Government is capable of, you must certainly understand that hackers are just as capable. Check your privacy settings to see what apps are accessing what information. Should they be? If it isn’t plausible then remove it. You can always re-allow access. You must be proactive to be secure.

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