How smartphone apps spy on you

But don't be fooled: There's still a price. Krupp wants people to know where their data go. He recently led the development of a new online tool that does just that.

Misuse of consumer tracking apps

He and his students call it SPEProxy. It tells people when their apps are sending data, which can help spot misuse. It also offers ways to better protect personal data. It gives phone users control over where their data go, and which data are shared. The computer code that directs how data are used often is buried deep in an app's software. He did not work on the new tool but can appreciate its value.

As a computer engineer at Florida International University, in Miami, he studies security for smart devices and other computer systems. They don't know if or when their data are being misused. Krupp's online tool can help raise a person's awareness of all that sharing and selling, he says. Smartphones store a lot of personal data.


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Those devices know our names, the names of our friends, our address — and where we are, right now. Some apps use those data to do their job. A weather app needs to know where a person is to report the local forecast, for example.

How to stop phone apps from spying on you

But those same apps may often send such data on to advertisers as well. Those advertisers will pay well to know how people behave and live. Krupp agrees that it is important for phone and tablet users to know where their data go. And that data theft may not be harmless.

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Those data may reveal when someone leaves home and when they get back. They can show how — and where — people spend their days.


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  6. Most of these sensors lack permission controls, which means anybody could potentially access the information. For example, if a user is going to press the number two, the phone could be positioned relatively flat. But if the user reaches for the number five next, he would be moving the phone in a certain direction. The NTU researchers achieved a As smartphones evolve from communication devices into surveillance tools, some ordinary people are using phones for that very purpose.

    He is not bothered if an app developer can track his movements on his phone in the same way. Mr Syed D Jailani. So that would leave me with some peace of mind. For others, however, the digital dilemma may only get worse as they become more reliant on smartphones. Watch this episode of Talking Point here. New episodes every Thursday at 9.

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    The next best thing is to keep an eye on those permissions as you use apps. Here are few of the more risky ones to look out for:. For example, plenty of apps request access to the Phone permission just so they can save or pause if you get an incoming call. If you have an Android device, go to the main Settings menu, then tap Apps. Tap the specific app you want to adjust. Simply tap the slider on the right side of the screen to enable or disable permissions individually. For more details about handling Android app permissions, check out this guide.

    Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viber

    These are broken up into different sections, though. You can read up on managing permission access in iOS here. Again, the best way to retain your privacy from apps like this is to not use them in the first place. Michael Crider has been covering technology on the web since His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order. He wrote a novel called Good Intentions: