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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cell Phone Giving Away Your Personal Privacy

If you own a cell phone, you've already given up a lot of your personal information. Mobile phones have always permitted their service providers and communication regulators to track users. Your mobile service provider in your country can produce a record of every number you've ever called, every text you've ever sent and, if you have a smartphone, all websites you've ever visited.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Companies that make most of the popular apps for Android and Apple devices such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram usually gather private information in address books on the phone and sometimes store it on their own computers.

Despite the fact that Apple says it bars any app that gathers or transmits users' personal information without their permission - that has not stopped some of the most popular applications for the iPad, iPod and iPhone - like Hipster, Yelp, Foodspotting and Gowalla - from taking users' contact information and transmitting it without their knowledge.

For years, app developers have presumed that if they offer you an easy way to communicate with your loved ones using their applications, then you won't have such a lonesome experience, and you might continue to use their apps.

Therefore, most of the applications you love, and use every day have a "find friends" feature that scans your address book to find who among your contacts is already using their services.

Although most firms claim not to do this, those that do it commit one of the most heinous crimes because it makes your private information the property of unapproved third-party.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few others, upload either your contacts' phone numbers or email addresses to their servers for matching purposes. Most of these applications perform this action without first requesting permission from you.

They often use encode HTTPS connection to upload the files to their servers. Their servers then use the address book data to determine contact matches. Sometimes the data is discarded immediately thereafter.

On February 2012, for example, the Path iPhone users were shocked to learn that the contents of their address books - phone numbers and contact email addresses - had been uploaded to and stored on Path's servers. After public protest, Path immediately corrected its mistake, deleted its records and started to request user permission.

On the other hand, much of the data in your address book belongs to other people. Their cell phone numbers, for example, has been entrusted to you with the hope that you will keep it confidential.

It's also a security risk. Should the company's database ever get compromised, that data would become the hacker's property, as well. And who knows what the hacker would do with such outburst of privileged information?

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