Spies in the Digital World: Mobile Apps as Spyware?
Have you ever heard of the times when Siri of Apple, Amazon of Alexa, Google Home of Google, and possibly Cortana of Microsoft were said to be listening to their consumers’ conversations even without these private virtual assistants being used? Sounds like a spyware.
These concerns above are certainly true for both Alexa and Google Home, yet these features are well known in their privacy policies and in order for these devices to work in its optimum they were optional. However a lot of people are concerned on why we should trust these devices, and ultimately these companies for storing some of the data they listen to?
The good thing is not all conversations are recorded, but most likely key information that were heard were recorded; such as hobbies, weigh, age, etc. in order to improve and personalize advertisement of individuals.
But the real problem as of the moment is not about recorded speeches in general, because there is a lot more than that meets the eye in terms of data privacy issue.
What can possibly be another issue?
Is your phone/device listening to you? Assuming most people is cautious. Maybe not, but nobody is absolutely safe yet. As it turns out to be that some apps and the way apps can be made can possibly access more information than what an application must access respective to its functions.
According to the Northeastern University and the University of California, Santa Barbara who has been experimenting on 17,000 different apps for the last year, they did not find any of the apps secretly hijacking the phone’s microphone.
However there is a bad news, and that is some of the apps examined may be recording your phone’s screen without your consciousness. The danger of the possibility that our screens are recorded is alarming, because the information recorded on your screen can be critical from your phone’s pin code up to your personal information.
Personal information sells a lot online, and most of the critical information sells a ton within the dark web. Data privacy and a person’s right to privacy is one thing, but the impact of such data leaks can go out of hand, and then may be used to commit various cybercrimes such as identity theft in order to phish for more information.
Mobile apps with the underhand function of recording through a microphone or recording your screen without a user’s conscious permission can be considered as another phishing activity. What is worse is the stealthy nature of it, and the reluctance of majority of the mobile app users on reading the data privacy section and/or the apps’ permission screen during installation where most users just tap “Next” until it gets successfully installed.