Smartphones are very good tools, especially if you’re looking to be more productive. Of course, there are some dangers to smartphone use, which is why it’s important to know what information you’re sharing, and with whom. I’ve discussed this privacy problem, and I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution except diligence.
One of the ways to focus on diligence is to be certain what information apps are sharing about you, your device, or your habits. Google created a pretty “brain dead” approach to monitoring what information your apps are sending out. They’re called permissions.
Unlike Apple’s ecosystem, Google prefers an open environment when a user wants to install an app. Anyone and everyone can upload apps to Google Play for installation. However, Android’s security features only permit the app to perform its permitted functions. That is, the more access an app has to your Android OS, the more problems you could wind up with. You can check each app’s permissions prior to installing it on your device from Google Play in your browser:
Or from your device:
If the app’s already installed, you can view the app’s permissions by going to Settings > Apps > Click the App > App info.
Obviously, the longer the list of permissions, the more likely the app has access to materials or information.
One of the most common, and perhaps dangerous, permissions is the sharing of geolocation data. That means your global location via pictures or GPS data.
I’m seeing many more people posting information to social networking sites containing compromising geolocation data. Perhaps the biggest offender are exercise and running applications. For instance, here’s a link I saw posted to someone’s Twitter account:
As you can see, the app posts route and time information for this person’s run. I checked other posts from the user that featured similar, and perhaps more compromising, route information. In fact, some of the posts obviously started at this person’s home, continued for a couple miles, then ended back at the house.
That led me to this thought: perhaps it’s best not to share such personal information. There’s risky, and then there’s really risky. I couldn’t help but imagine a dreadful situation where bad things happen to good people. Sure, the risk may be low, but I can imagine a situation where someone stalks via social networks, learns patterns of behavior, and eventually does something bad.
All that leads to this: be careful and know what you’re sharing and when you’re sharing it.