Do you have any idea the volumes of information that are out there about you? If you have a smartphone, every button you push, every place you go, every search you make, and more are recorded, bought, and sold on the open marketplace. Technically it is stripped of ‘identifying information’ but that’s not exactly true. If you have a data file that shows where a person goes every weekday at 9 am and where they return every evening, it’s pretty easy to extrapolate from there who the information belongs to. So how can you protect your privacy if you use a smartphone?
If you have a smartphone, chances are you use Google at some point. Google tracks far more than your email and your search history. They also track what kind of device you are using, where you are, what apps you use and when, what you read and watch, where you plan to go at what time, and recordings of your voice after you say, “OK, Google.” Developers use this data to sell targeted advertisements. In fact, your Google account information is worth $182 on average. You have an ‘Advertising ID’ which is used to collect information from 1700 different apps and which is linked to your MAC Address, IMEI, and Android ID, permanent identifiers built into your phones software.
Your data in the open marketplace
This information has also been used maliciously to influence elections. Remember Cambridge Analytica? Fewer than 300,000 people used the app that led to the collection of information about 87 million people, which means that breaches in your friend list can also affect you.
Additional information is gathered through unnecessary apps, games, and quizzes, and users don’t often fully understand the volumes of data that is being collected about them and the tremendous value it has in the open marketplace and beyond. Police can even use this information to track your every move, right down to the route you take to work every day and the bank security camera you pass at 8:03 a.m. every morning.
Protecting yourself is difficult but not impossible. Turn off location settings when you aren’t using them. Only download necessary apps and delete any you don’t use. Think about why certain apps might need permissions to access data about you. Use a virtual private network, or VPN, if you can.
Learn more about how apps compromise your safety and security from the infographic below.