Generation Y vests too much trust in smartphones

By Ali Leist, COLUMNIST
On November 21, 2013

 

Smartphones tend to think for their users, especially since a typical smartphone knows just about everything there is to know about its users.

People have become too comfortable with their smartphones and need to learn to be more reluctant in putting their entire lives on their smartphones.

When the iPhone launched in January 2007, it became a major revolutionary step for cellphones that made them less like phones and more like the minicomputers they are today.

Smartphones are programmed with the contact information of everyone a person talks to, where that person is located, what he or she likes to do, his or her banking information, photos and so much more. Carrying your entire life in your pocket can be convenient, but it also poses serious security threats.

While a smartphone may seem like a safe place to put valuable information as long as it stays within arm’s reach, Fox 13 reported there are currently no laws to stop the collection and sharing of data by third parties.

This means every time an app is downloaded and the user blindly agrees to the terms of use and privacy policy, it’s likely they are being tracked.

Fox 13 also reported the NSA supposedly used cellphone towers to spy on the location of millions of Americans in 2010 and 2011, despite denying use of the information. Smartphones have made it extremely easy for the government to know everything about their users.

The government wont’t likely steal your identity, but hackers can. According to a CNN report, mobile phones are just another outlet for hackers because smartphones tend to provide more information than what’s obtainable from a desktop computer, such as location data, access to your contacts, address book, photos and real-time audio through your microphone.

CNN also reports that programs, such as AndroRAT, make it easy to inject malicious coding into fake apps with names similar to popular ones. With these apps, a hacker can see contact data, turn on the camera or microphone and record.

Recently, according to an artilce in the New York Times, there has been discussion for a “kill-switch” to remotely deactivate stolen phones. However, this idea will not be not as successful as it sounds because the CTIA, the industry trade group that represents the carriers expects risks, such as hackers to take control of the feature and disable phones.

Ultimately, it is the users’ responsibility to not leave sensitive information on their phone.

According to a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive in August, about 56 percent of people don’t use a passcode on their smartphone and only 42 percent of people are concerned about personally identifiable information being seen by someone without permission. This is a clear indication people trust the security of smartphones too much.

Considering the current teenage to young adult generation was basically raised on technology, it’s understandable that many of them are very trusting of smartphones. However, the risk of an invasion of privacy through a smartphone is a potential consequence that everyone should be aware of before putting sensitive information on a smartphone or downloading a seemingly harmless app.

 

Ali Leist is a junior majoring in mass communications.

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