How to Protect Your Privacy while Using Smartphones

If you are like most people, you probably use your phone multiple times each day for activities such as texting, checking social media, or looking things up online. In fact, modern phones are used more for these types of activities than for making phone calls.

Years ago, the only purpose for a telephone was to call someone else so you could speak to them even if they were far away. These days, however, phones act more like a personal assistant, keeping you connected and giving you access to a wealth of information. But at the same time it is keeping you at risk of privacy breach!

No matter what profession you are into, your privacy is of utmost importance. And if you are a business owner, you must know how to protect your privacy in the smart world.

Since, your smartphone is one of the strongest connections with your clients, co-workers, friends and family, there are some important things that you need to know about your phone.

Modern Phones Incorporate High-Tech Tracking Sensors

Today’s phones incorporate a variety of different sensors that are designed to collect data. These sensors are actually built into the phones and serve a number of different purposes.

For instance, phones incorporate accelerometers and gyroscopes, two types of sensors that enable them to closely track your motion. The accelerometer tracks physical movements while the gyroscope tracks the rotational angle. Combined, these two sensors can provide a detailed overview of your movements. If anyone were to access this information, they could tell what position your body was in at any given time.

Phones also incorporate another type of sensor known as a proximity sensor. This sensor is designed to detect when your phone is close to other objects. That is how your phone knows to turn off the screen if you are holding it up to your face making a call. Don’t forget about your phone’s GPS system, either. This makes it possible to see exactly where you are on a map at any given moment. Along with these high-tech sensors, there are also sensors built into the phone’s camera and microphone.

As technology continues to advance, new sensors are also being introduced. For instance, many modern phones are capable of measuring the surrounding temperature, pressure on the phone, and the amount of light in a space. Some even have sensors that can detect fingerprints. From a health perspective, there are also other types of sensors built in that can allow you to track your heart rate or count the number of steps that you take each day.

In most cases, programs only have access to a small amount of this data at any given time. There is a chance, however, that someone could accurately track you if they were able to get their hands on information that was gathered by all of the sensors in your phone.

Experts have shown, for instance, that it is possible to use a software program installed on a smartwatch to extract the PIN numbers and passwords of the person wearing the watch.

Even more concerning, many types of data that are gathered are stored for long periods of time. For instance, if you search by voice through Google, those searches are saved for a long time afterward. Google also uses other types of data to target advertising based on the types of activities that you do and the places that you go. Apple Health is no better since it keeps track of where you go and what you do even if you have other health-related apps installed. One of the best ways to stop this is to look at the best VPN options on the market – these will encrypt a lot of this data, rendering it useless.

 

Why Is This Data Being Gathered And What Is It Used For?

The sensors themselves are relatively benign. The only real problem is when apps or programs access the data that is gathered by the sensors.

Every time you install a new app, you are asked to grant it certain permissions. Oftentimes, these permissions allow them to keep track of where you are going or what you are doing.

The worst-case scenario would be providing permission for an app to gather data from all of the sensors in your phone and to use that data however they want. The data that is accessed can give the company a fairly clear picture about many aspects of your life ranging from where you go to what you like and how you spend your time.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is by making sure that apps only have access to the sensors that they need. For instance, if you are going to install Google Maps, you will need to grant the app access to your GPS. Likewise, if you are installing a health-based app, you may need to allow it to access the onboard pedometer.

At the same time, however, if you install a game, be sure to read through the permissions carefully. For instance, ask yourself why a game would need to access certain sensors on your phone such as the camera.

In almost all cases, the companies themselves are not trying to do anything ‘evil’ with your data. The primary reason why companies gather so much data is so that they can market to you. However, every time that your data is accessed, it poses a problem for your privacy and security – especially if you aren’t sure what steps the company is taking to protect your data.

If you really want to protect yourself, you should always carefully read the permissions that an app is requesting before you install it.

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