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Smartphone users warned hackers can steal and trade location data


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 4, 2016 | 2 min read

Smartphone users are being warned that their mobile’s location and tracking data is at risk of being stolen and traded by hackers online according to campaigners calling for tighter security.

The breach arises due to the practices of mobile operators and wi-fi hotspot providers who routinely collect real-time information on their customer’s movements 24 hours a day, generating a trove of sensitive information which can then be bought and sold for profit.

They warn that armed with location data nefarious individuals can work out ‘where you are, how you got there and where you are going’, enabling criminals to target children on their way to school or homeowners when they have left for the day.

Geoff Revill, the founder of Krowdthink, warned: “Effectively consumers are opting in to being location tracked by default,” said, the privacy campaign group behind one of the investigations published on Monday.

“The fact of the matter is your mobile service provider knows – without you knowing – where you are, how you got there and can figure out where you are going.”

Pete Woodward, the founder of information security experts Securious added: “The information that mobile and Wi-Fi service providers hold on location tracking is an evolving and high-risk area of cybercrime that needs urgent attention by the industry,” Woodward said. “Otherwise we will face the frightening prospect that such highly sensitive data could get into the hands of the likes of kidnappers and paedophiles.”

Krowdthing calculate that as many as 93 per cent of British citizens have unwittingly opted into location tracking, granting mobile providers carte blanche to access their location details.


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