Privacy campaigners have warned that the movements of everyone with a smartphone in the UK are at risk of being hacked and sold online.
According to a new report by privacy-focused social network Krowdthink, many users are unaware of just how much information is being shared despite having activated protective measures.
The report address the misconception associated with the term 'Location Tracking' pointing out that GPS isn't the only way a company or person can track you.
Instead mobile phone companies and other organisations can compile huge swathes of location data through Bluetooth, WiFi hotspots and more.
The report warns that this information is gold dust to criminals such as burglars who would be able to see exactly when you're at home and when you're not.
As David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab points out though, this is nothing new to the security industry:
"As we live increasingly connected lives our mobile devices have become a very valuable target for cybercriminals because of the multitude of personal information they collect – ranging anywhere from when you’re out of the house to when your children are leaving school."
Emm goes on to point out that smartphones have in fact become a higher risk than computers because of their traditionally lower security and their increased interaction with unknown wireless networks.
To help users keep track of their location and their privacy Emm has a few key tips:
- Location Services do help us to find our way around, but some apps also request access to location services - sometimes unnecessary and potentially compromising. To protect against such access - to Location Services or any other functions on the device - check the list of requested permissions
- Switch off Bluetooth when in unfamiliar environments, otherwise you are leaving your devices discoverable and vulnerable to those seeking to exploit the open connection and possibly hack your device.
- Always use a strong PIN or password to protect your mobile device. Make sure your password is difficult to guess and, if your device allows it, use a mixture of numbers, letters and special characters. Avoid memorable or easy-to-guess dates and names, and remember that the longer your password is, the harder it will be to crack. Finally, ensure you use a unique password for each of your gadgets, bank accounts and social media accounts. To avoid having to remember yet another password, consider using your fingerprint to access your device, if this is supported.
- Make sure you protect all your mobile devices with an up-to-date security app from a reputable company. Prevention is most definitely better than cure.
- Avoid shopping, banking or other confidential transactions using public Wi-Fi hotspots. These are common places for cybercriminals to steal your information. You can go online in public places by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).