Who’s Tracking Your Smartphone?
Companies, government organizations and criminal hackers use intrusive methods to harvest data from smartphones. Worst of all, many of these tactics occur without the smartphone user’s knowledge and consent.
By following these steps, you can limit the amount of data that can be accessed and travel without your movements being tracked.
What’s the Problem?
Organizations can easily tap into smartphones to access personal data, track movements and make assumptions based on behavior.
Who’s Tracking Your Smartphone?
- Monitoring interactions between individuals through devices e.g. which devices intersect with one another, when, and who they belong to.
- Tracking people’s activities in protected spaces
- Private homes
- Hotel rooms
- Medical facilities
- Track movements in stores using Wi-Fi signals
- Use app information to determine specific demographics
- Determine store layouts using behavioral statistics
- Steal personal information
- Identity theft
- Devices being taken over remotely
What’s the Issue?
Invasion of privacy
- Collecting personal data for marketing purposes.
- Tracking and saving data on innocent individuals.
- When served a subpoena, cell towers must divulge user location data.
- Access to personal data such as banking, communications, and private information.
Anyone Can Be Tracked
Even if you have a 10-year-old Nokia, your location can still be triangulated.
How Do These Trackers Work?
What’s being tracked on Smartphones?
- Encounters with other devices
Tracking through WiFi
- Companies like Skyhook tap into your WiFi signal to track location, movements in stores and track advertisement engagement.
Tracking through Bluetooth
- Even if WiFi is disabled, your phone’s Bluetooth signal can give away your location, expose the files on your phone, or even receive files and communications from other devices.
Tracking Powered Down Mobiles
- Since 2004, the NSA has been able to access and record data from your phone even when it is powered down. Dubbed “The Find” by special operations officers, it was first used for counter-insurgency measures in Iraq.
How Can It Be Avoided?
- Disable Location TrackingApple iPhone:
- Go to ‘Settings’
- Go to ‘Privacy’
- Go to ‘Location Services’
- Scroll to the bottom and click on ‘System Services’
- Click on ‘Frequent Locations’
- Uncheck ‘Improve Maps’ and ‘Frequent Locations’
- Go to Settings
- Go to privacy and location settings
- Uncheck boxes next to location tracking permissions
- Anti-Tracking AppsiPhone:
- Untrackered – Jailbreak app that runs in the background and cleans up any location history saved to your iPhone.
- Chainfire’s Pry-Fi – turns off Wi-Fi tracking without turning off Wi-Fi features to stop tracking.
- PrivacyFix – prevents tracking from stores and advertisers.
- WhisperMonitor – designed to help users understand how certain apps on their devices collect and transmit data. Provides an interface that lets them make changes.
- BlackphoneA smartphone designed for privacy:
- Secure and custom operating system
- Anti-theft features
- Disables Wi-Fi, except in trusted places
- Secure communication
- Share securely
- Stop in store tracking
- Turn off Wi-Fi
- Turn off Bluetooth devices
- Turn off GPS
- Don’t allow apps to access personal data or locations
With so many organizations looking to exploit unsecured data, users, unfortunately, have to accept that they will likely be tracked. Turning off location services Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can only offer a finite amount of protection. Location tracking like Skyhook or an easily obtained subpoena can track your phone.
And with the NSA now able to infect phones with Trojan malware that monitors powered down phones, the average smartphone user has minimal control over invasive tracking.