The Tech Herald

NCSAM: Consumers should take proper ROUTE to mobile privacy

by Steve Ragan - Oct 3 2011, 12:00

When it comes to mobile devices, such as tablet computers and smartphones, consumers are often unaware of the amount of geolocation data collected about them. In keeping with the tradition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a recent mnemonic created by the ISACA is a great way for consumers to remember the basics of mobile privacy.

Geolocation uses data acquired from a computer or mobile device to identify a physical location. Applications using this technology offer consumers greater convenience, discounted prices, easy information sharing, and enable enterprises to deliver more personalized customer service and offers, the ISACA said.

“...malicious use of geolocation data can put both an individual and an enterprise at risk. When a person’s personal information, such as gender, race, occupation and financial history, is combined with information from a GPS and geolocation tags, the data can be used by criminals to identify an individual’s present or future location. This raises the potential of threats ranging from burglary and theft to stalking and kidnapping.”

If you think about it, criminals can use geolocation data to focus Phishing attacks. If they know you checked into 4Square recently, they can craft emails to you addressing that location, which increases the odds that someone will fall for the scam. Another point, while geo-tagging is implemented by users, there may be multiple entities with access to said data, which creates a privacy issue. This is compounded by the fact that most users can’t identify the source owner, and many are often unaware such an owner exists.
“There are great consumer advantages of geolocation services, such as photos being tagged with the correct location or assisting you with directions to the location you are travelling. However, as with all technologies, individuals and enterprises must consider their risk tolerance level. The fundamental issue at play is that many consumers are unaware of the risks. They need to educate themselves in order to make informed decisions,” said Robert Stroud, vice president of strategy and innovation at CA Technologies.

With that in mind, the ISACA has developed a mnemonic addressing some of the basic best practices. In short, when installing or using an application on your mobile device, remember to take the best ROUTE:

Read mobile app agreements to see what information you are sharing

Only enable geolocation when the benefits outweigh the risk

Understand that others can track your current and past locations

Think before posting tagged photos to social media sites

Embrace the technology, and educate yourself and others

See, it's easy.

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