Lots of mobile apps can track where you go. Is that what you want? If not, do something about it.

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Monday December 24th. I’m Howard Solomon.

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The New York Times earlier this month had a fascinating article about how much tracking data your smartphone collects and relays to the apps you have. It estimates at least 75 companies in the U.S. receive anonymous, precise location data from traffic, jogging, weather and other apps that use location services on your device. These companies sell, use or analyze the data for advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds trying to figure out consumer behavior. Developers say the information their apps collect is not tied to a person’s name or phone number. However, with access to the data and some patient work, an identity might be worked out.

There is a trade-off. In exchange for having your location, you get advice – like traffic snarls to should avoid, or nearby gas stations – or free coupons, or advertising. The thing is, while you should be asked by an app if you want to to turn location services on, the app or the developer may not clearly say that the data will be shared and sold.

So before you download a mobile app, check the permissions it asks for, and, if you can, read the full privacy policy. Ask yourself if the app really needs your location, or access to your photos and contact list? Do you need it turned on when you’re at work? Does a school-aged child with a smart phone need to have location services turned on?

Get familiar with the settings on your phone so you can easily turn location services off and on when you really need it, as well as the Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth connectivity.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon



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