Mobile phones have become ubiquitous and basic communications tools, now used not only for phone calls, but also for accessing the Internet, sending text messages, and documenting the world. Unfortunately, mobile phones were not designed for privacy and security resulting in Identity theft. Not only do they do a poor job of protecting your communications, they also expose you to new kinds of surveillance risks, especially location tracking.

Identity Theft You probably know your phone can pinpoint your location for GPS, local search, or the weather. Hopefully, you also know that means your phone keeps track of everywhere you go, all the time. Location tracking via smartphones is a common practice used by all the major players, either locally on the device or remotely on a server and is used to provide many of the services expected of a modern phone.

Location data obtained from cell phone providers is not the only issue that has garnered attention recently. The storage of location data has become an increasing concern. For the most part, the carriers have protected themselves by aggregating the data, never letting partners see all the data at the same time — but it’s an imperfect solution at best.

Identity Theft

courtesy of @briankrebs

Location tracking is not only about finding where someone is right now, it can also be about answering questions about people’s historical activities and also about their participation in events, and personal relationships. Cyber Criminals can use location data on individuals in many ways. Knowing exactly when a person leaves their house, and when they are returning is a substantial help when planning a robbery. Alternatively, knowing the location of an individual will often reveal intimate details of their life, which can in some cases lead to other crimes, such as identity theft.

Let’s be clear: location services are actually really useful, and make a lot of our favorite apps work the way they do. Consider whether or not the apps and services you use are valuable enough to you that the information you give up is an acceptable trade. Most worrying of all, is that these wireless companies are deciding the tradeoff between privacy and utility behind closed doors.

 

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