What would you do if someone came up to you, leaned over and whispered in your ear can I please have your personal information? Personally, I would tell them to go away, possibly using words a bit stronger than that, and walk away. But every day people are saying it is OK for someone they don’t know to use their information.
How is this done? There are no shady deals and secret code, it is all out in the open. The developers of those free apps on the Apple and Google app stores have to make their money somewhere. If it isn’t from ads or in-app purchases it can be from selling your contacts, text messages, web browsing histories and photos. When you download an app, it asks for permission to access information on your device. Usually, they only ask for information required for the app, but some go a lot further. Why would apps need to access your text messages, or photos unless they are for making texts or processing photos?
When the request to access information is displayed, review what the app wants to use. If the requests do not seem relevant, don’t use the app or don’t grant permission to use information it should not require. If you agree to all permission requests, you run the risk of personal data from your contacts, emails and texts being made available to advertisers, spammers and criminal networks. And if you have account login details in emails or texts they can also be passed on. And giving access to web browser histories may allow advertisers or attackers to learn where you live, work and bank.
A variation of this approach was a Facebook quiz to produce a map of your most used words on Facebook since you signed up. Signing up hands over personal details including name, sex, profile picture, birthday, hometown, education history and information about your device. All very useful information for criminals. Victims were lulled into a false sense of security as there was a statement saying data will not be shared without permission, but by agreeing to the terms and conditions, you implicitly give this permission.
Contact us for training and advice on how to protect your information and avoid these types of scams.