New research suggests Android apps are able to glean a much larger amount of your personal data than previously thought.
Alarmingly, Android apps are capable or understanding where you live and where you work by simply monitoring the internal sensors on your smartphone – and this is all done without evening accessing GPS or WiFi permissions.
The news came after researchers from the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University said that the latest information was relevant as “users would never know this was possible,” as no permissions are required as the apps are already installed.
To prove the theory, the researchers developed an Android app to collect data and using Open Street Map it was able to map the world’s roads.
The researchers then tested the accuracy of the algorithm against actual trips made in the US and other places around the world. It appeared that the accuracy of the algorithm was around 50%.
Although this in not ground breaking it is surprising how accurate the information is without using any sort of location data.
“Inferring a driving pattern from an Android app can lead to much greater invasions of privacy, such as where the user lives and works,” Professor Guevara Noubir said.
Combine that with something like city databases for property tax records and there’s a good chance people can be individually identified and tracked.
“Adversaries can recover lots of details through these side channels,” Noubir added.
Sadly it appears that unless you are prepared to give up apps entirely, you may be at the mercy of the app developers and their privacy policies when it comes to tracking your movements.