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Is the Data Storage in Your Smartphone a Window into Your Life?

It seems as though every few months our smartphones are getting smarter and smarter. The ability to provide immediate information, an instant connection, geo-tagging, or even mobile banking has provided a convenience that leaves us wondering how we ever managed without it. Though the technology is ever advancing and making our lives innumerably better, the abundance of information in a phone makes it very difficult to secure data storage relating to our personal information.

Most of us go through our daily routine without a thought of who might be watching. Whether we’re going to work, school, lunch, the gym, or coffee, we most likely have a smartphone with us quietly tracking our movements.

Who is Tracking Your Movements?

Researchers at MIT reported in the Journal Scientific Reports that our patterns and movements are all being reported by our smartphone’s GPS location services. With just this anonymous location data, someone could easily figure out who you are, where you go, and when you go there.

Although it doesn’t appear yet that the data storage has been used maliciously, it is still an invasion of privacy and could lead to identity theft cases. Increasingly, the makers of mobile applications and programs are opening up systems to broadcast “anonymous” information in order to allow advertisers and developers alike, to better target a specific market. Apple’s iPhone comes with a statement declaring mobile data is used and shared with “partners” and “licensees.”


A special feature of most smartphones uses the GPS beacon to determine your location and broadcasts it along with social media posts. A family recently discovered this when they posted a message on Facebook. The post, along with the message, posted the location of the phone notifying all that the family was abroad and not at home. Security experts say this is the kind of information that notifies thieves that you are not home nor will be home for some time.

Invasion of Privacy

With the GPS location service “on,” smartphones will attach location information to social media posts, photos, and even automatically update some applications. This feature is known as “Geo-Tagging,” and might pose a severe risk to your privacy. Smartphones will automatically add information that may be invisible to you, but will be added to photos once uploaded to social media sites.

Privacy advocates are not amused. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says, “The government claims that cell phone users give up their privacy rights because they have voluntarily disclosed their physical location to the cell phone providers every time a phone connects to the provider’s cell tower, however, this theory undermines privacy in nearly any networked communication.”

Groups such as EFF says the direction we are heading is a society that lacks privacy: “These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual’s privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals.”

What Can You Do?

In order to protect your privacy and not become an identity theft example, DataShield recommends following these simple rules to keep your data storage secure in a world where everyone seems to be watching.

  1. Turn off location sharing services: Turning off your smartphone’s GPS tracking system will disable location services. Social media applications will no longer save location data about photos, videos, and status updates.
  2. Wait until you return from a vacation to post pictures: When you post pictures and status updates of your vacation, you are advertising to the world that you are not home. This is a juicy invitation to thieves, “Hey, we are not home right now!”
  3. Inform your kids of the dangers of sharing information on social media: Teach your kids about the information that shouldn’t be shared on social media websites, locations, habits, parties, etc. Any one piece of information by itself may not be harmful, but add it all together and someone could have just enough to determine where you are, who you are with, or where you will be.

For more tips on ensuring your privacy, please contact us today.

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