Technologies such as location tracking and facial recognition can make applications practical, but they can also leave the cell phone exposed and invade users’ privacy. Since the Facebook controversy with the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, this topic has gained importance, and we must increasingly pay attention to the data we provide to applications and other online services. Check out the following list of five technologies present in apps that can invade your privacy, and learn how to protect your data on the Internet.
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Check out app functions that can be invasive and put your data at risk – Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc
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1. Location tracking
Some applications require the user to activate the location of the mobile phone to access the services of the app. While reporting this data is necessary for map and transport visualization programs, this technology can be controversial. For example, spy apps are used to track boyfriends and employees and pose risks to people’s privacy, as in addition to location, they can capture various other information from victims, such as contacts, messenger conversations and everything that is typed on the keyboard.
The debate on user tracking is on the rise at the moment, with the large number of software created to accompany the spread of Covid-19. According to MIT analysis, most contagion tracking applications for the new coronavirus do not transparently inform the destination of user information. To avoid this type of exposure, it is recommended to disable the real-time location of the cell phone, and use the feature only when really necessary.
Disable your location in the device settings, you can activate it again only when necessary – Photo: Reproduction / Marcela Franco
2. SDK (developer kit)
The Software Development Kit (SDK) consists of the necessary tools for software development. The SDK allows you to integrate information from different services, for example, through the option to login with a Facebook or Google account. However, this technology can also facilitate non-consensual information sharing. Facebook even filed a lawsuit against analytical company One Audience for using the social media SDK in its applications to control and collect data from Facebook users.
Another more recent example of privacy invasion happened with Zoom, according to a report by the American technology website Motherboard in March. The Facebook SDK, present in the videoconferencing application for iPhone (iOS), allowed the services to share data from users of the Apple system. After the case came up, Zoom removed the Facebook SDK from the app’s settings.
To avoid exchanging data from different services, the ideal is always to create a new account when registering with an application. The option to use a different email and password prevents linking logins from other services.
Avoid logging into applications with accounts from other networks – Photo: Reproduction / Marcela Franco
Deepfake is an artificial intelligence technique that allows you to create realistic images or sounds. It can be used for fun, such as inserting your face into memes, but it brings up the privacy debate, as technology makes it difficult to discern the real from the fake and can store users’ facial and vocal data without permission.
So it is important to follow some tips to recognize whether a video, photo or audio is actually a deepfake. It is possible to detect it by movements of the face and hair, which is usually fixed and does not move much in the fake videos. In addition, politicians tend to be targets of this type of production, so it is necessary to check in official vehicles if a certain public figure actually gave the statement exposed in the video. Also, it is worth doing a search on more than one website to confirm that the photo or video in question appears on other trusted portals.
Deepfake apps can confuse users – Photo: Pedro Vital / dnetc
Facial recognition allows you to read people’s faces to identify or classify them according to the criteria required by the service. On Facebook, for example, your goal is to recognize the user in photos to facilitate automatic tagging in images. The function divides opinions, since facial biometrics are sensitive data to be stored, since they do not tend to change (different from alphanumeric passwords).
Disable facial recognition in Facebook settings – Photo: Reproduction / Marcela Franco
5. Registration of activities on the cell phone
Stalkerwares are spy apps used to monitor partners, children and even employees. The programs, installed without the victim’s consent, are able to track information such as the device’s location, browsing history and SMS messages. If you suspect that you are a victim of stalkerware, you can follow some tips to detect the presence of the unwanted app on your smartphone.
One of the most common signs is the increase in the use of mobile data, as these tools use the Internet to send information about the target to third parties. In addition, it is necessary to check if the phone has an application that has not been installed or if it has received unknown messages. The rapid consumption of the battery can also be considered an indication.
To protect yourself, try to put a password on your phone and keep the code just for you, avoid downloading apps from external sources, check the apps installed on your phone periodically and update the smartphone’s antivirus constantly.
It is possible to protect the cell phone against stalkerwares – Photo: Paulo Alves / dnetc
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