Today nearly all of us use a phone to organize every area of our lives.   Most people are aware that almost everything we do online can be followed and noted down and can be used by companies and government departments to watch what we are doing.  Even when you get a Jackpot Capital casino download, someone knows about it.

So below we will look at how your smartphone can be used in this way and also look at the ways in which you can protect yourself.

You are being spied on

In 2013 and the information revealed by Edward Snowden it became clear that government agencies are really spying on us all. It seems that you don’t have to be on the most wanted list or a suspected terrorist, your data is likely to be recorded even if you are a model citizen.

In a more recent interview in 2019, Snowden remarked that “The big thing that has changed since 2013 is now it is mobile first everything. Mobile was still a big deal and the intelligence community was very much grappling to get its hands around it and to deal with it. But now, people are less likely to use laptops, desktops or any kind of wired phone, than they are to use a smartphone.  And both Apple and Android devices, unfortunately, are not especially good in protecting your privacy.”

Perhaps you don’t mind that the national intelligence agency has access to your emails.  You probably don’t have anything to hide.  However, would you mind if your information was passed on to a third party without your permission.  This, unfortunately, is what is happening now with many technology organizations and there have been a number of scandals that have come to light, like, for instance, Cambridge Analytica.

Three possible ways that your phone can be used to spy on you.

But how is it done?  Our phones are encrypted, no?  That doesn’t mean they’re secure?  Let’s see how the spying is actually done….

The camera on your smartphone

In 2016 James Comey who was the former director of the FBI attended a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  At the conference he was asked whether he took the precaution of making sure his laptop camera was covered.  His response was “There are some sensible things you should be doing, and that’s one of them.”   Today, this would include your smartphone camera too.  

People with malicious intent, hackers, can get into the camera on your phone, turn it on and take photos and record videos.  Google said in 2019 that this could be true for “hundreds of millions of smartphone users” when hacker managed to get into Android phone cameras.   So, the risk is real.

If a hacker is targeting you specifically you may receive emails or even texts with a link for you to use that will then give them access to your camera.  So, beware of these emails with attachments.  

You can protect yourself from falling victim to this kind of smartphone type spying by covering up your phone camera with stickers that are removable.  Also make sure that you don’t enable apps to access your camera.   And if you really want to be cyber-safe it is always the best policy to never click on a link that comes from an unknown source.

The microphone on your smartphone

The idea that our phones are eavesdropping on our conversations started to become a big issue in the last few years.   It began when Facebook and other media platforms like it, began posting advertisements to users which gelled with conversations they had been having whilst their smartphones were in the room.

It appears that a large percentage of Americans, 43% of smartphone users, believe they are being listened to by their devices. This was what a survey of 1000 people found that was conducted by US Consumer Reports.

In 2016 Facebook insisted that the company definitely “does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed”.  However, with Facebook’s history it is somewhat hard to believe.

The truth is, we know that it is not hard to get access to a smartphone’s microphone and to the conversations taking place.  It is possible to download an app and enable it to have access to your microphone and, therefore, it could listen in on conversations all the time.   If someone is bent on accessing your microphone, they can send you a link in an email or an attachment that will likely do the job.

Always make sure that the access to your microphone is disabled for all apps that don’t need it.   Again, never click on a link or download an attachment from anyone that you do not recognize.

The apps on your smartphone

Smartphone apps are a serious problem when it comes to privacy.  If you allow full access to say, Facebook or WhatsApp it would then have the ability to take over your camera. It could record you, track your location, carry out facial recognition and a variety of other things.   And those are apps that are not considered to have malicious intent.  

Unfortunately, there are those apps that are out to do damage. They want to steal your data in order to sell it onto a third party.  Many of these apps are able to retrieve your data even if you have not authorized it.   

In order to protect yourself from having your data stolen it is always best to disable in settings on your smartphone any permissions and, even better, to minimize the number of apps downloaded to only those really necessary.  

Also be careful to only download known and reputable apps to your phone.  In addition, it is helpful to run malware and virus scans regularly to pick up any dangerous apps that you may have downloaded.  

For most of us, not using smartphones is just not an option in order to avoid the privacy issues.  But there are those who may choose to just get rid of their smartphones altogether. However, taking the precautions listed above should help to make your smartphone safer and go some way to protecting your privacy.

 

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