A few months ago I was reading an article about the top ten android ‘Flashlight’ or ‘Torch’ apps all being programs designed to spy on their users. According to an investigation carried out by cyber security firm Snoopwall, as soon as you click ‘accept’ and download the app, you are giving the app permission to take your sensitive data, and most worryingly of all, these apps are exporting your data to locations in countries such as China and Russia.
During the course of their investigation Snoopwall found that the permissions in all of the top ten flashlight apps ask you for permission to view your Wi-Fi connections, modify your phones system settings, obtain full network access, and even determine your location using your phone’s GPS. In fact the app has so little to do with giving you light and so much to do with spying on you that the advice of Snoopwall was not only to delete all Flashlight apps from your phone, but also to use the factory re-set on it, because they found that even deleting the app didn’t always remove all of the malware. Wowzer!
So much attention has been given to the NSA’s overt and huge scale operations for listening in to our phone calls and making copies of our emails, that sometimes we forget the simple fact that these technologies (that we use every day) are frighteningly able to suck away our privacy, from right under our noses, like little electronic vampires!
So what else about technology must we fear? Yes, I know it sounds like the intro to something you would expect to read in Fortean Times, but lets take a look anyway! Firstly, Avast found that using factory re-set doesn’t actually wipe your phone of details. In fact during an investigation into a number of re-set Android phones, the antivirus company managed to extract 40 000 photos, the names of the previous 4 users of a phone, 750 emails, and more than 1000 Google searches! Nice!
Second on our list is the findings of a British University student called Szymon Sidor, who last May wrote a blog explaining how an app he has created that is almost impossible for the user to notice is in operation (revealing itself in just one pixel of your smartphone’s screen), can covertly take photos using your smartphone’s camera!
Imagine your phone taking photos that you don’t even know its taking, and feeding them into a facial recognition program like the one Facebook uses, and you’re somewhere close to the dystopian ‘Philip K. Dick-like’ nightmare that is slowly coming true in your palm!
Seeing as I’ve mentioned Facebook, why don’t we look at the infamous ‘likes’ system? Yes, I’m sure if I asked you the question; ‘do you think that you can be profiled from what you click “like” on?’, your answer would be ‘yes’. After all, you are willingly telling Facebook what books, films, television shows and companies/organization you prefer. What if I told you, however, that Facebook can actually tell your sexual preferences, your drug taking habits, your political affiliations and even your skin color from the ‘likes’ you have clicked!? All to staggeringly high percentiles? Yes the Panopticon is here, and it’s called Facebook!
I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that your GPS knows everywhere that you’ve been since you first charged your phone, but what about the fact that you are being lied to when apps such as Secret, Whisper and Yik Yak tell you that whatever confession you make will remain anonymous!? Well that was exactly what two hackers found when they investigated said apps, so don’t go whispering your darkest secrets to your phone just yet.
The truth is that common sense is important when using modern technologies. Yes, we all know that there are great benefits to having these technologies. To all intents and purposes we are telepathic, and if you flew back in time to the middle ages (in Dr Who’s Tardis), with the ability to talk to your friend in Hong Kong from a field in quintessential England’s Sherwood forest, you would probably be strung up and burned for your witchcraft!
Here at BestVPN we want you to enjoy your technology, so don’t be silly and stay informed, technology is your friend but it is also the biggest and best way for government and non government agencies to Spy on you, so take care!