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July 14, 2010

Geolocation apps raise security concerns

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by Darren Allan

A survey conducted by security firm Webroot has indicated that mobile users are concerned about their privacy and security being potentially compromised by geolocation apps.

A geolocation app, as most will be aware, is a tool which broadcasts the physical location of the user when they’re online.

Their growth in popularity, and spread to social networks – Twitter now has location-based features, and Facebook will doubtless be following – contributes to the fact that 55% of those who use geolocation technology are concerned about the loss of privacy.

Almost half of the 1,500 social network users who own geolocation capable mobile devices questioned said they were concerned about letting would-be burglars know when they’re away from home.

Just updating your status when on holiday, for example, can let thieves who check online know that you’re away.

Jeff Horne, Director of Threat Research at Webroot, commented: “As location based applications continue to gain popularity, we should all be increasingly aware of what cyber-criminals can do with the huge amount of personal data that is being shared by everyone on the web.”

Women are more worried than men about the personal dangers geolocation can bring, with 49% of them concerned about the potential stalker risks coming with the technology, as opposed to 32% of men.

The survey also discovered that 22% of respondents had fallen victim to a social network phishing scam designed to steal their account password. 16% reported contracting a malware infection from a social networking site.

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