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Blog - Cyber In The News: Smartphones

 

Last Saturday was a busy day in the press, with the New York Times publishing an article entitled: “Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers”. The story basically describes how all those issues around privacy have now gone mobile. Some of this you already know; companies tracking your data for the purpose of targeted advertising. One of the newer trends however is the move away from “cookies” as the primary tracking mechanism. One example is the company Drawbridge (www.Drawbrid.ge ) which the article mentions:

“Drawbridge is one of several start-ups that have figured out how to follow people without cookies, and to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected.”

They do this by connecting various devices to your user profile based on your web behavior, and then supporting cross-device targeted ads, tracking of conversion rates, and so forth. Many other apps are well-known to be verbose in reporting your information and usage habits. The article mentions Flurry:

“Flurry embeds its software in 350,000 apps on 1.2 billion devices to help app developers track things like usage.”

As much as I would like to recommend adopting uncorrelated behaviors across your various devices, that is clearly not a very practical solution. So, we’re pretty much stuck with the more standard recommendations for protecting your information and security on mobile devices from places like the Center for Internet Security (www.cisecurity.org ):

  • Be aware that people are interested in your mobile devices..hacking, tracking, and accessing them and the data on them
  • Keep the operating system updated
  • Password protect your device
  • Install and use only reputable apps from trusted sources
  • Disable bluetooth and similar capabilities when not in use [I also disable location services, but this is a mixed bag]
  • Don’t connect to unknown networks [at airports, for example]

There are plenty more tips and suggestions, but the bottom line is that as mobile devices become the predominant platform, they are quickly replacing more static devices as the target of choice for the good, bad, greedy and malicious among us.

- Dave Ihrie, MACH37™ Chief Technology Officer

 

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