That technology you use every day and trust with all of your private deets is spying on you. Every step you take, every filthy Google search you make; it’s all being recorded and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Actually that’s a lie. If you know what to do, there are some simple steps you can take to keep from leaking data all over the place. Here’s our guide to stop your phone from spying on your every move.
Location tracking services
Terrifyingly, your iPhone knows your every move.
Don’t believe us? Well, try this: Click settings, then Privacy, then Location services, the System services and finally Frequent locations. Now pick your jaw up off the floor. That’s right, your iPhone has sneakily stored every place you’ve ever visited, along with how often you visit them.
It’s not just storing the names of towns, either. It actively records the street names and, if someone is smart enough, they can probably even work out the exact buildings you’ve been visiting. So frequenters of dodgy Soho establishments beware.
Android users might have it even worse. Google records similar notes on your location and even records this in the cloud, where law enforcement and hackers could theoretically get to it.
How to stop it: Simply turn off location services on either your iPhone or Android device, and they’ll stop tracking your every move. Of course, doing so will make your phone far less efficient at providing location services such as mapping, but if you’re paranoid about being tracked then it’s the only solution.
Uber: Tracking your one night stands
Most of us know about Uber’s tendency to court controversy. If its drivers aren’t threatening to cut people’s throats, they’re being accused of molesting their fares. So you may not be surprised to hear the taxi company has some questionable practices with regards to its customers’ location data.
Uber stores information on absolutely every trip, even those trip that some of us might not want other people knowing about — including those late-night booty calls. The company posted a (now deleted) blog post about passengers who took a ride between 10pm and 4am on a Friday or Saturday night, and then took a second ride 4-6 hours later (we’re assuming that includes at least 3-5 hours of nap time) and recorded the most amorous Uber users by US state (Boston leads the way, in case you were wondering – clearly lots of Sam Malone wannabes).
So it goes without saying that Uber has a clear picture about who you are, where you travel and even why you might be doing so.
How to stop it: Delete Uber. There’s no two ways about this one, sadly. If you don’t want them tracking you, then you shouldn’t use their app. Thankfully there are alternative taxi services around.
Exif picture data
We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but even your selfies could be a means of spying on you.
You see, all cameras have the ability to record Exif data alongside each picture they take. In the old days, Exif data was useful for recording information such as ISO settings, the lenses used and to store the photographer’s copyright information, but phones take Exif data a step further. They’ll also record your location using the handset’s GPS data.
Good news is, this allows you to browse your photos by the location in which they were taken, but if you share those photos, it’ll allow anyone looking at the Exif data to know exactly where each snap was recorded.
That’s right, the bedroom trout pout you uploaded to that dating website might reveal your exact address to complete strangers.
How to stop it: Luckily Facebook and Twitter strip Exif data from images, but not everywhere follows that practice. Switch off location services to be safe.
Apps are made just to entertain, inform and help us, right? Wrong. There are hundreds, thousands – hell hundreds of thousands – that are made with the intent to spy on you. In 2012, a report by security company Bit9 revealed that around 100,000 of the apps in the Google Play store could pose security risks.
The majority of these apps are up front about it, too, but most of us don’t bother reading the privacy policies, that can say an app will record websites you browse, track your location and access your personal contacts. Why would a flashlight app need to know the phone numbers of your friends? Why would a virtual girlfriend app need to know every move you make? Those are very good questions that you’d do well to ask yourself before you hit that download button.
How to stop it: Read the terms and conditions. Yes, we know it might take ages, but it might stop you being taken advantage of in the long run.
Facebook image: Flickr/Md saad andalib