How Often Is Your Location Being Shared?


Do you know how often your smartphone tells third parties about your personal information? Do you even know that your mobile device is capable of sharing (i.e., leaking without your knowledge) information about you?

As for how often, it's a lot, courtesy of free apps. And if you only knew just how frequently this'd probably do something about it.

That's what a study from Carnegie Mellon University says. A report on the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science site explains that learning exactly how often these applications share private information causes people to quickly try to stop this by altering privacy settings.

The shared private information includes the user's location, phone call logs and contact lists. The sharing may occur thousands of times over a two-week period, with recipients including Facebook and Groupon.

Participants in this experiment were shocked at the frequency, which was revealed by an app permission manager. With this manager, the user can choose which applications can gain private information. This particular experiment used the AppOps manager for Android 4.3 (which has since been discontinued).

The study showed that users, when notified of precisely how many times their personal information was shared, jumped into action to restrict this. People really do care about their privacy being shared. It's just that in general, users don't have a clue just how much sharing goes on.

The report also points out that research continues on this topic, and it's making headway. But the app permission manager, says the study, is not the be-all end-all solution. And some users may be overwhelmed by the depth of privacy options on their smartphones.

All that being said, it is up to the user to do their homework before clicking "I agree" when downloading and installing an app. Think about it, how uncool would it be if a burglar was fully informed of your whereabouts, home or not? The same goes for any app tracking you.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

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