Is Your Personal Data Truly Safe on Your Smartphone?

by on February 20, 2012

in consumer

smartphonesAs smartphones become more prolific, so too, does the security of the smartphone.  These buggers, the itty bitty laptop known as a smartphone, are starting to replace the desktop and laptop computer, and evil-doers are catching on and starting to catch up!  I love how the few make it miserable for the many.

I’m sure many of you are aware, but if you’re not, below are just a few instances of issues you might want to be aware of with your smartphones, like personal data being uploaded by some apps, scanning the wrong kind of QR code or apps like Google Wallet with tiny initial flaws in their processes.

(BTW:  Always update your apps.  Sure, most of the time it means more aggressive ad processes, but at times, it also means valid security patches for apps.)

Personal Data Uploaded

I previously wrote about the Emergency Broadcast system test on smartphones and since I had this in my back pocket, I thought I’d pull it up and point out that, as the website ReadWriteWeb put it,

“your smartphone is either egregiously violating your privacy or just trying to improve your user experience in a not-so-transparent way. “

Turns out that what RWW was reporting is that a Path (A social network) app was apparently uploading phone users entire collected address books from their smartphones, and that as this issue was looked  at for further exploration of the issue, it seems they discovered that Twitter also uploads your address books.

And THAT, is the cost of a free app, or so the article goes.

The rest of the article on RWW talks phones using Jailbreak or something like that.  But that’s outside my comfort zone or realm of experience.  So rather than talk about it, I’d suggest hitting up the link at the end of the article if you’re interested in getting more information.

In the meantime, I just thought it was interesting that a user’s data is leaked as commonly as it appears to be leaked, per this article!

Evil QR Codes

And while I’m on the issue of nasty bugs biting smartphones, I’m sure you’re aware that those square barcodes out there in the world are called QR codes.  They’re intention is for smartphone users to use one of their many apps to scan, and they take you to a website usually.

Beware which QR codes you scan!

Like some emails you get, where most of them need to be discarded or not to click on links from unsolicited help or contests or that offer of FREE money, it seems that QR codes are popping up that take you off to websites that are portals to malware.

And we all know how fun malware can be.  NOT!

I’ve used a few QR codes, but on legitimate products in legitimate locations.  Don’t be scan crazy!

An Argument Against Using Your Smartphone as Your Wallet!

I had heard about some issues recently with Google Wallet and didn’t pay much attention to it.  I don’t use my smartphone that way.  I don’t trust my smartphone to contain any real data.  Period.  It’s my trusty guide when I need a map, and a woman, whose voice I can’t seem to change, telling me where to go.  (No, no, not the wife.  My Droid maps tool called Navigate.)

But I never took to using it because I don’t trust the smartphone system yet.  It’s still in its infancy of use and I’m waiting until all the bugs are worked out.

I never thought about the idea of losing or getting my phone jacked off my person though!

In one example of an issue, is a flaw discovered with Google Wallet.  If you lose your phone and an evil-doer finds it, they can (or could) pretty much drain your bank account.

All someone would need to do is once holding your phone, they go into Apps, Wallet, Clear Data, reopen Google Wallet, and since the app thinks this is a new setup, it asks the user to set a new PIN.

Nasty, isn’t it?

All I’m presenting here is an aspect that indicates we need to be more careful and less flippant when trying newfangled toys designed for our new toys!

Re’sources’ for your review:

readwriteweb.com: Dont want your_private_data_to_leak?

theregister: qr_code_mobile_malware_risks

technorati.com:  Google wallet issues

 

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