Location tracking has been a big topic in the news after it was recently revealed that Google still tracks its users even with the location settings turned off.
However, this topic isn’t new. Most of the apps on your phone are probably tracking your location right now. Mobile apps often ask for permission to use location settings after you’ve installed them. This is often done to provide you with deals to nearby stores or help you locate places.
While it’s convenient to have location tracking, it can also pose a lot of security and privacy risks that can affect personal and work lives.
What are the risks?
Sharing your location is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be useful to help track your missing device. On the other, it gives strangers, including hackers, the ability to know where you are. Sometimes, people inadvertently reveal their location too. This can be done by ‘checking in’ on Facebook to get free Wifi or simply posting images on social media of where you are. Hackers can use the knowledge of your location to their advantage and target your life online and in the real world.
Social engineering risk: Hackers can use information about your location to spear phish you. For example, you have an employee that goes fishing every weekend and posts about their latest catch on Facebook. A hacker can look at this and determine that this person likes to fish and where this person goes to fish. They can then target this person with spam emails about fishing. Since fishing is a topic your employee interested in, they’ll most likely click on it.
Physical risk: By sharing your location, you could be putting your valuables and estate at risk. You could be giving cybercriminals access to information about where you live or work. Criminals looking to rob empty houses or sneak into office buildings can plan to do so at a time when no one is around.
How to Protect Yourself
Avoid publicly sharing your location: Limit information about your whereabouts to your close friends and family. If you’re on vacation and really want to post about the resort you’re staying at, consider posting about it once you’re back home.
Don’t share other people’s location: In the same vein as above, don’t share when or where your boss or colleagues are on vacation. It’s not your place to announce where other people are.
Turn off geotagging: Review the settings for your installed apps, including your camera. Sometimes these apps automatically turn on shared locations. Review which apps you want to actually give access to location tracking and understand the risks that it brings.