Majority of smartphone and tablet owners may be allowing their downloaded apps to capture their geo-location data. However, security experts say that it would be better to turn off the GPS function of a mobile device unless it is strongly needed.
Privacy Concerns Over Mobile GPS
According to Alan Brill of Kroll Advisory Solutions, activating your device’s GPS functionality and allowing your apps to capture your geo-location data pose security threats and privacy issues.
Smartphones for GPS chips today embed geotagging information into the photo that a user uploads to various social networking websites. What people didn’t know is that this move could have negative implications to the user. In fact, this is happening in current military situations wherein adversaries watch for photos posted by the users from the other side.
GPS can also pose threats for businesses. Regulatory agencies around the world are considering whether geo-location data should be considered sensitive information. This could mean that businesses collecting this type of data as part of their marketing campaign should start regarding that this action could cause huge legal burden in terms of data breach.
Brill is also concerned about geotagging in photos that are uploaded by children and teens on social media websites. Some of them may not realize that they are actually giving out information to strangers.
Good thing, GPS functionality on mobile devices can be turned off, and it should be in most cases. This feature may be helpful when getting road directions, but there are now several ways on how personal GPS information is being collected today.
GPS Security Issues and Political Propagandas
In relation to this, GFI software came out with a report this week that describes how apps created for the Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns were able to capture GPS information from a user’s device.
Both Obama for America and Mitt’s VP are available via download at Apple and Google’s official app stores. Although both are designed to make a closer connection to their potential voters, GFI software pointed out that the apps have the ability to monitor and control a user’s mobile device.
The applications can read the user’s contacts and upload them. It could then exploit the GPS functions in devices with GPS chips. That’s why the same with Brill, they are encouraging users to say no to GPS data collection on their devices. Other than that, users should also be careful with what they download.