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Apps & Privacy: How To Secure Your Mobile Data


apps and privacy

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Apps & Privacy: How To Secure Your Mobile Data

More than 9 in 10 Americans feel they’ve lost control of their personal data to companies who mine data from social media, connected devices, and more

Is Your Data Private?
Each day we generate 250 million terabytes of new data

Americans On Social Media:
Facebook: 68%
Instagram: 35%
Snapchat: 27%
Twitter: 24%

Every Second On The Internet:
946 Instagram photos
8,690 tweets
77,783 Google searches
2,845,459 emails

Are Your Apps Tracking You?

Google tracks much more than your search history and email
What apps you use and when
Android devices, Login with Google
What you watch, read, and search
YouTube, News, Books, & Google Search
Where you go or plan to go and when
Google Maps, Calendar
What you say after “Ok Google”
In one case, the file containing all Google’s data on a single person was 20 gigabytes, equal to a 12 million-page text file

Why bother tracking users? Developers use your data to generate more ad revenue from their apps

The Data Economy

By 2025, the market for in-app advertising will reach $234 billion

Advertising ID
Your “Advertising ID” is linked to your phone’s permanent hardware identifiers
MAC address, IMEI and Android ID
Google Privacy Policy allows developers to collect hardware identifiers and Advertising ID
BUT developer’s can’t combine these identifiers without consent
And permanent hardware identifiers can’t be used to target ads

According to one study, 1,700 Android apps collected permanent identifying information in violation of Google’s privacy policies
Fewer than 1 in 3 follow collect only the user’s Advertising ID
“We take these issues very seriously . . . and will take action when [apps] do not comply with out policies” — Google
BUT, Google also admits they’re unable to enforce privacy policies outside of their own ad networks
Each Google user’s data is worth about $182 — For Facebook, it’s $158
Ad networks will pay more to reach iPhones than Android, leading to rampant fraud

Click Fraud
Generates revenue for ad developers by placing false ad calls
Rather than disrupt the user experience, ads are played in the background
As a result, the device uses more data and drains the battery faster
Could potentially install more malicious code without user knowing

In 2018, researchers identified:
13 apps —with over 500K downloads— that served no purpose except to install click fraud malware
Used a hidden home screen icon to avoid detection
22 apps —with over 2 million downloads— containing click fraud malware undetected by Google Play protections
Apps that were legitimate may add malware later on
Hackers acquire an app with an existing user base
Develop bots that mimic real users using data tracking
Send bot traffic to the app to generate more ad revenue

You don’t need to use social media for your data to be compromised
In one experiment, researchers could predict what someone would post on social media with 95% accuracy — even if that person never had an account

The Worst Apps For Privacy & How To Avoid Them

Facebook
In 2013, Facebook admitted to accidentally leaking information gathered on users — including phone numbers and email addresses that users hadn’t shared
Try This Instead
Review your permissions and privacy settings regularly
Choose the most limited settings to maintain functionality
Avoid sweepstakes and quizzes that require access to your account
Participating can share your data AND your friends
270,000 people used the “This Is Your Digital Life” app for Facebook — but the app was able to gather data on 87 million people on behalf of Cambridge Analytica
Flashlight Apps
In 2013, the developers of “Brightest Flashlight Free” settled with the FTC after allegations that the app failed to inform users it shared location data and identifiers
Try This Instead
Use the flashlight built into your operating system
iOS and Android have their own flashlights
Ask yourself if it makes sense that an app would need access to data
Requesting access that isn’t related to its core function is a red flag
Rideshare & Delivery Apps
In 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to remove Uber from the App Store after learning the app was collecting iOS users’ hardware identifiers
Try This Instead
Turn off location data when you’re not using the app
There’s no reason these apps need to know where you are when you’re not using them
Avoid using “Sign in with Google” or “Login with Facebook”
Linking your accounts give apps access to huge amounts of personal information
Games
In 2019, New Mexico sued Tiny Lab Productions, and ad networks run by Google and Twitter, alleging their games compromised children’s right to privacy
Try This Instead
Monitor your phone’s battery life and data usage after installing a new app
Sudden changes are sign something isn’t right
Research the app before you download, to see if it’s legitimate
Search for the app or company and “data scandal” or “scam”

Tips & Tech: How To Protect Your Data

Use a Password Manager
Best passwords aren’t memorable – instead use a random string of characters
Reusing passwords leaves all your accounts vulnerable if one is breached
Try This
Keychain[iOS]
1Password [iOS & Android]
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN prevents other users on the same network from accessing your data
AND, a VPN keeps the internet open — getting around filtering and censors
Try This
ExpressVPN [iOS & Android]
Never trust a free VPN — maintaining a secure VPN is costly and free versions frequently harvest your data for themselves
Check For Data Breaches
Data breaches happen, periodically check if your data was leaked
Try This
Have I Been Pwned & Pwned Passwords: Securely search for your email and frequently used passwords in a database of recent hacks
Login History: Facebook and Google will show you what devices have signed on to your accounts and all active connections
Don’t be fooled by fake security checks into giving up your password — only use services recommended by a reputable source

Your data belongs to you. 
Be aware of what you share.

apps and privacy

Sources:
https://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?htmlfid=WRL12345USEN
https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/in-app-advertising-market
https://globalnews.ca/news/4108073/what-does-google-know-about-you-heres-how-to-find-out/
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/06/04/how-americans-have-viewed-government-surveillance-and-privacy-since-snowden-leaks/
https://news.sophos.com/en-us/2018/12/06/android-clickfraud-fake-iphone/
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/turn-on-flashlight-turn-off-flashlight/
https://www.computerworld.com/article/3254183/how-to-use-icloud-keychain-the-guide.html
https://www.expressvpn.com/
https://www.technorms.com/31339/monitor-google-account-login-history
https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-websites-for-finding-out-if-youve-been-hacked/
https://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/68344/how-to-view-facebook-login-history/
https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-websites-for-finding-out-if-youve-been-hacked/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/5-reasons-why-you-should-never-trust-a-free-vpn/
https://haveibeenpwned.com/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/7-security-tips-to-keep-people-and-apps-from-stealing-your-data/
https://1password.com/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/7-security-tips-to-keep-people-and-apps-from-stealing-your-data/
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https://www.newscientist.com/article/2166435-how-facebook-let-a-friend-pass-my-data-to-cambridge-analytica/
https://www.uvm.edu/uvmnews/news/study-facebook-and-twitter-your-privacy-risk-even-if-you-dont-have-account
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/23/technology/travis-kalanick-pushes-uber-and-himself-to-the-precipice.html
https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-privacy-ridesharing-privacy-ride.html
https://www.nbcnews.com/technolog/ftc-says-flashlight-app-left-consumers-dark-2D1170282
https://www.cnet.com/news/even-if-youre-off-social-media-your-friends-could-be-ruining-your-privacy/
https://www.thebalanceeveryday.com/steps-to-delete-facebook-apps-and-protect-privacy-892790
https://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20180404/blog109/657016/want-to-stay-on-facebook-heres-how-to-limit-the-data-it-collects
https://www.zdnet.com/article/anger-mounts-after-facebooks-shadow-profiles-leak-in-bug/
https://arkenea.com/blog/big-tech-companies-user-worth/
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https://www.cnet.com/news/these-android-apps-have-been-tracking-you-even-when-you-say-stop/
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/how-a-massive-ad-fraud-scheme-exploited-android-phones-to
https://news.sophos.com/en-us/2018/12/06/android-clickfraud-fake-iphone/
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/how-to-download-a-copy-of-everything-google-knows-about-you.html
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https://globalnews.ca/news/4108073/what-does-google-know-about-you-heres-how-to-find-out/
https://medium.com/productivity-in-the-cloud/6-links-that-will-show-you-what-google-knows-about-you-f39b8af9decc


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