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The issues of location tagging: Do you know where you’ve been? Someone else might too!

Guest post by: Richard Clooke

The realm of smartphones and mobile applications is an endless universe that is ever growing and expanding. Gone are the days when your phone was only used for making calls or occasionally using the calculator or calendar. Now you can download all kinds of weird and wonderful apps like ordering takeaways straight to your door, reading the latest news and social media headlines, booking hotels, mixing DJ tracks and even tracking NASA space missions! ‘Viruses’ and ‘malware’ are not words traditionally used when discussing mobile phones. However, with more and more of us downloading, purchasing, posting and emailing using apps on our smartphones, the mobile app world is quickly becoming a haven for cybercrime.

One area in particular we should all try to be more informed on is smartphone GPS capability. Smartphones now come with a GPS chip as standard, which allows for your exact whereabouts to be tracked using satellite data. This technology is used in several of the mobile world’s most popular apps, letting you ‘check-in’ to a local restaurant or bar, adding locations to photographs, planning jogging routes, and most simply the technology can be used as a navigation tool. The danger here is that by innocently letting all of your friends and family know your whereabouts, you are also taking the risk that this information might also be seen by other less familiar faces. Sharing your location on mobile apps and social media sites might seem harmless, but unfortunately it means that this information can also be viewed by just about anyone signed up to the site or app, especially if your profile is set to public, making it easy for you to be found by people who have no business finding you. Several photo sharing websites make it possible for other users to view your specific location details using latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, enabling potential criminals to become aware of where you are and more importantly, when you are away from your home!

Most geo-location apps let you set a certain level of privacy, but you can never be too wary of people with bad intentions who may be following your updates and posts. As a basic step towards protecting yourself it is a good idea not to reveal your home address on these applications. Secondly, it is important to make sensible decisions about how widely you share your updates and whereabouts, ensuring privacy settings are on high to guard you from strangers. As a last point to note, mobile apps are continually updating their software and more regularly than not, privacy settings are reverted back to standard. Therefore it is important to ensure you are aware of these updates and keep regular tabs on your security settings. Take a look at http://www.mobilesecurity.com and our blog post for: top tips for staying safe when sharing and watching videos online to find out more about guarding your location.