Tech Secrets: Three Ways Apps Are Spying on You

Do you use your phone to access the internet? Then it’s likely that apps are secretly spying on you and collecting your personal data. Find out how they do it.

Apps are spying on you as we speak.

Living in the 21st century means you’re constantly monitored by half a dozen apps every waking hour of the day - and, if you use a sleep tracker app, it doesn’t stop even when you call it a night.

Here are three ways your favorite apps are spying on you, and you don’t even know it.


App spy on you even when you sleep


1. Camera and microphone permissions

No doubt you’ve come to rely on Zoom, which means you are probably familiar with the pop-up box that requests permission to use your device’s camera or microphone. Did you know that some apps don’t seek this consent before they turn your device into a spy agent on your desk or in your pocket?

Tech Secrets: Three Ways Apps Are Spying on You

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Do you use your phone to access the internet? Then it’s likely that apps are secretly spying on you and collecting your personal data. Find out how they do it.

Apps are spying on you as we speak.

Living in the 21st century means you’re constantly monitored by half a dozen apps every waking hour of the day - and, if you use a sleep tracker app, it doesn’t stop even when you call it a night.

Here are three ways your favorite apps are spying on you, and you don’t even know it.


App spy on you even when you sleep


1. Camera and microphone permissions

No doubt you’ve come to rely on Zoom, which means you are probably familiar with the pop-up box that requests permission to use your device’s camera or microphone. Did you know that some apps don’t seek this consent before they turn your device into a spy agent on your desk or in your pocket?

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More than 250 games across the Google Play Store and App Store were listening in for background audio through smartphone microphones and using that intel to serve up better targeted ads, according to a 2018 New York Times report. If you’ve ever suspected that your smartphone is eavesdropping on you, you may be right.

2. Facebook ‘like’ button

The Facebook ‘like’ button is everywhere. Even if you’re not a user, you will have seen the thumbs up icon on blog posts and in news articles. 

Facebook gathers your data as you sleep

If you click on it, you can ‘like’ a page or a post without leaving the website you’re on.

The ‘share’ button and comment box also connect to Facebook’s servers, allowing you to interact with their content without visiting the website.

Sure, it’s convenient, but the trade-off is that you’re essentially agreeing to being stalked around the internet and having your every swipe and every tap watched, and that information will be used to better target ads at you back on Facebook.


3. Location services

Smartphones have made it easy to track people’s movements with location services built into the devices and various apps. This can prove very handy when it comes to finding your lost iPhone or letting other people track your location for safety reasons, but some apps may be doing it without your knowledge.


App spy on you even when you sleep


If you’re an iPhone user, try this: click on Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations, and you’ll find a list of all the places you’re in regularly. Did you give your phone permission to collate this information? Most likely not.

Android users, you’re not exactly safe either. Google keeps track of your locations and stores this data in the cloud, where it can theoretically be subpoenaed by law enforcement or accessed by anyone who happens to know your password.

Is it all bad?

Not all apps are inherently malicious; they're just garnering as much data from you as possible to improve your user experience. After all, if the thought of unknowingly giving away your personal information is creepy, you can always turn off these features - but will you?

Read mORE

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