Thursday, 11 July 2019 14:24

Is Your Smartphone Secretly Listening to You?

Author:  [Source: This article was Published in ca.news.yahoo.com BY Bree Fowler]

[Source: This article was Published in ca.news.yahoo.com BY Bree Fowler - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

We’ve all been there. You talk on the phone with a friend about something, say sneakers, and then a little later see an ad for the latest Nike shoes in your Facebook feed.

It’s almost like your phone, or one of the apps installed on it is listening to everything you say.

Could that be true? Or is it just a modern myth?

Well, it’s technically possible for phones and apps to secretly record what you say. And lots of people sure seem to think they do.

According to a nationally representative phone survey of 1,006 U.S. adults conducted by Consumer Reports in May 2019, 43 percent of Americans who own a smartphone believe their phone is recording conversations without their permission.

But, to date, researchers have failed to find any evidence of such snooping.

The scary thing, according to security experts, is that there are much more efficient ways to learn all about you without ever having to eavesdrop on that never-ending conversation with your mom.

Possible, But Not Practical

During the 2017-18 school year, researchers led by Northeastern University computer science professor David Choffnes set out to see whether they could catch a smartphone spying on what they said.

Using an automated test program, they analyzed more than 17,000 popular apps on the Android operating system and did not find a single instance where an app activated a phone’s microphone and leaked audio data.

Michael Covington, a vice president at Wandera, a mobile security company, says his researchers performed a similar study, focusing on high-profile apps known for large-scale data collection, including Amazon, Chrome, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

They too found no evidence of secret recordings.

In the end, given current technology, Choffnes explains, recording audio just isn’t a very practical way to gather market intelligence, because accurately translating that audio into text for analysis would require massive amounts of computing power, especially if done on a large scale.

If snooping of that volume was going on, undetected by researchers, he adds, it would probably involve state-sponsored hackers, who hunt for fish much bigger than the average consumer.

While that all makes perfect sense, it still doesn’t explain why so many people believe they're getting ads inspired by private conversations, Covington says.

“What we’ve done is provide some insight into what advertising platforms aren’t doing,” he argues. “But, they clearly are doing something that’s allowing them to target those ads so well.” 

If Not With a Microphone, How?

When it comes to collecting data on consumers, there’s no shortage of effective options. Companies from Google on down to the tiniest developer of time-wasting games routinely record personal info—names, birthdates, credit card info—simply by asking for it.

Many also track your location throughout the day using your phone's GPS and nearby cell towers or web beacons.

And Facebook monitors your browsing habits beyond the confines of its own platform, thanks to a tiny, transparent image file known as a Facebook Pixel that's placed on websites across the internet to track what you watch and read and place in your shopping cart.

In Choffnes’ study, the researchers also found that 9,000 Android apps were secretly taking screenshots or recording videos of smartphone activity and sending them to third parties. In one case, a food-delivery app recorded video of the user’s activity and shared it with a data-analytics firm.

One screenshot captured ZIP codes. Imagine if others revealed usernames, passwords, or credit card information.

Clay Miller, chief technology officer for the mobile security firm SyncDog, says that while apps are designed to be "sandboxed," meaning they withold user data from other apps, data can sometimes cross over through a phone’s operating system.

Still, it's more likely that, at some point, you paused to admire those sneakers you were discussing with your friend online, Miller notes. And perhaps didn't realize—as few people do—that companies like Google combine data from their many free apps, creating a profile for ad targeting purposes.

So, if you were to do a Google search for a particular kind of sneaker and use Google Maps to drive to a shoe store and your Gmail account to sign up for a shoe store’s mailing list, you can bet you’re going to get ads for sneakers in your Chrome browser.

And, thanks to all that data-tracking software tied to Facebook, you'll probably see the same ads in your Facebook feed, too. 

If that weirds you out, try to limit the access those companies have to your browsing history by not using the universal sign-on features offered by Google and Facebook and by not signing into the Chrome browser, Miller says.

Keep an eye on the permissions granted to your apps, too, Covington adds. If you don’t think that gaming app needs access to the camera or microphone on your phone, revoke it.

To see exactly what permissions you've given to each app on an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > and then scroll down to a category such as Camera. There you'll find a list of apps with permission to use your camera along with toggle switches to withdraw that access.

On an Android phone, go to Settings > Apps > and scroll down and click on a specific app. The next screen will show you what permissions that app has and allow you to turn them on or off.

“A lot of people might not connect the dots and realize that they’re trading their data and privacy for a free service, but that’s the world we live in,” Covington says.



  • Comment Link accounting services Friday, 08 May 2020 15:53 posted by accounting services

    Thanks for sharing a great article here.

  • Comment Link Mat Jo Monday, 26 August 2019 15:14 posted by Mat Jo

    I also asked these questions, and I got the impression that this is so. I asked this question to my lawyer, who registered me with the company (more information here https://en.clc.co.ua/registration-of-a-limited-liability-company-llc/), that this is prohibited by law and that this can not be proved.

  • Comment Link 918kiss download Tuesday, 16 July 2019 21:20 posted by 918kiss download

    There has been a lot of fuss about SEO or search engine optimization. Some would say it would take months and even years to be on top of the search engines although even claim it can just a matter of weeks for you observe results and dominate
    Google which is which?

    First be aware that SEO is really a long term thing. Algorithms of search change
    so you have to ensure that you still change your SEO routine continuously
    to help keep with changes. It is definitely
    not something you need to one day and forget about the next.
    Keeping on practicing the tips will you should get good page rankings consistently.

    There are a variety of sites on the Internet that actively pay guest bloggers to post their content on their sites.
    These web sites are typically part of a niche areas competitive.
    The power to keep new and unique content flowing on a normal basis
    is often a key factor in remaining both relevant and
    profitable. Guest blogging offers this content flow to keep fresh and
    unique due into the varying writing styles and consider points
    belonging to the authors.

    So maybe you should get started with with just adding
    say Meta tags and seeing how that gets an end result
    when copy and paste a distinct your pages text in a search vehicle.

    Then change the Meta tags to something else and re-submit your pages to the various search engines.
    Next time you perform a search your same keyword and key phrase as before, you could have a
    good idea of along with that is getting the best positive effects.

    The considerable link using is a one-way hyper link.
    Google loves a lot of people of backlink because it believes that shows your popularity.
    A one-way link looks the same gets nothing in return, therefore just linking regarding the expertise of the website and making your website look good to figure out.
    Well, the catch is that, getting a one-way link is tough.
    Many websites WILL want something in return, be it money, another link
    through a different website, or other services. Really best way to create this kind
    link might be to find free directories or websites that allow
    submissions or postings of links. Many link building services
    post comments or forum posts with a website
    back to the website, creating one-way back.

    Don't overlook the guys starting out when your green bar
    starts to improve. If they have a website with good quality content, you'll
    be able to should consider linking all of them.
    Remember we all need start out somewhere and today's page rank of
    1 is tomorrow's page rank 5. Individuals link with relevant websites because Google likes this, and seeing receive quality traffic
    remedies available websites for some time.

    If you need the above mentioned requirement then you'll need to hire content writers according in your own need.
    Suppose You require to launch a merchandise and
    to be able to write about products and everything, how one can write.
    Generally People is short of lot power for so. Then they hire
    copy writers and look it published by him. There are thousands
    of such requirement you possess in business. Not everyperson hire content writer in fixed salary, they hire freelancer and outsource their work accordingly.
    When you're having high demand of writer and associated with work pending for website content, then only you have to writer permanent writers.

    Very little is no better way to market blog site than to get commenting.
    It ought to do an excellent of good for your traffic, your search engine results rankings, your
    subscriber list and your Pagerank. http://Ace333.gdn/index.php/download/1-918kiss-scr888

Leave a comment

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media