Security Flaws Could Exist within Google + and other cell phone apps.
by: Wayne Warrington
We have come so far with technology and all the gadgets we have come to trust in our lives day-to-day. We can research any topic in minutes on the Internet and have volumes of data and history that could compare to any college student’s thesis of 20 years ago. We can broadcast our personal thoughts around the world with Tweets and Facebook comments in under 60 seconds and we can take print quality photos and videos right from our smart phones. All this makes us more productive and more in touch than ever before in history.
However, there is a dark side to the technology that we have embraced. There is a point in which we start to lose our ability to maintain personal items, information and events where they rightfully belong… in private!
Did you know that the research you do online can be traced? Filed and indexed in order for companies that have programs running on your computer or your cell phone can make informed decisions on what you see the next time you log onto your computer or use your cell phone?
Did you know that your private chats online can and are in many cases recorded and indexed for key words you use? If you didn’t, you should check out the “Privacy Statements” on services such as Skype. Did you know that personal tweets and Facebook comments of millions of Americans are used every hour of every day by both investigators on one side of the law, as well as predators on the other side in order to determine where you have been, where you are going and what personal habits you may have!
And of course the photos you take and upload to online services such as Facebook and Google plus are used and abused over and over again by individuals that do not value your privacy in any way at all.
So thank goodness for the protective measures online companies do provide and the ability we have to select what security and privacy options we wish to use in protecting our private information and photos. Or, at least that is what I thought before this morning! What changed my mind, or what alarmed me this morning was after my Sunday breakfast I turned on my computer screen and noticed an incoming email from Google + indicating that a new photo had just been uploaded to my online public account from my phone at 8:30AM! Since I had not touched my phone all morning this was a bit of a shock. Not only that, but the photo dealt with a client project that I had taken during the prior week. My first thought was, how did this photo get transferred from my phone to the Internet and how do I fix this so it never happens again. The obvious next step was to search Google + to determine the process to reset my phone settings to protects my photos.
The process appears simple when I searched for it online and since the phone was fairly new for me, I seemed to remember setting it up when I first bought the phone and I never thought uploading my photos automatically to the world-wide web would be a smart idea.
So following the procedures I arrived at the settings window on my phone and to my surprise, all my settings for any form of uploads of photos was turned OFF!
That’s right! OFF! And considering how many photos I take during the week, this started to make sense. I never have received an email such as this one saying a new picture was uploaded, so why now? And why was it a photo related to work, vs a picture of the sunrise? This now really concerns me and I would hope it concerns you as well. As I reported in an article on Phone App Security in 2012, some application that you down load onto your phone actually have the ability to turn ON your camera and even your microphone and transmit pictures and sounds from it. Without your knowledge of when it is doing so. I am thinking it is time to reevaluate the benefits we received from technology vs. the lack of privacy we are seeing each time we download a new app or use a free service. You see… FREE is NEVER REALLY FREE! It may appear to be free upfront, until you discover it came at the cost of your privacy.
Remember, big brother may be watching, listening and recording virtually everything we say and do! Privacy … it is our RIGHT to preserve and protect it!