How to Keep Phone Safe From Tracking

Haseeb Awan
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March 30, 2022
Modified On
April 5, 2023

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Modified On
April 5, 2023

Fast-forward: Canon ransomware, Twitter bug, and a plethora of relevant security news.

Your phone knows where you're located, and you know it. This is the phenomenon as to how your GPS works, locate your friends, and why local Facebook and Google ads locate you. This location information (or tracking) is incumbent or a hot commodity for internet marketers in the digital market space, just like other lucrative information on your phone is. 

Targeted advertising is more desired by modern enterprises on the web. These firms are eager to serve you ads for your preferred products (and/or services), and local data is crucial for them to hit their mark.

The good news is that you don't have to be a victim of such information collection if you are uncomfortable with it. However, to let you know, this tactic of information collection is legal as you have the option to allow them to know your location data by opt-in and out choices.

Unfortunately, not many are aware of this feature. Last week marked the first-ever online conferences – i.e. Defcon security and Black Hat. The NSA National Security Agency also shared a location limitation or limited your location data exposure.

This three-page primer (shared by NSA) explains how to limit your location data exposure, and as a bottom line, it's a healthy reminder that you secure your device and even protect yourself from ransomware/phishing attacks. NSA's prime concern was that most mobile devices store and share location by default.

NSA, furthermore, gave some valuable tips, such as turning off Bluetooth and WiFi whenever it is not in use. As extra security and cautionary layer, you can turn on Airplane Mode in case you are not using your device.

Do not allow location sharing permissions for apps and browsers – this will limit their ability to check on your locality whenever you use your browser and application.

Reset your phone's advertising ID per week. It is like a weekly audit of your ID to hamper the advertisement agencies from tracking you! Especially during tracking applications launched to trace COVID-19, one needs to be vigilant.

It is also advised that do not trust or use iOS and Android's Find my Device features – instead, use a trusted VPN. These steps give you some mental relaxation and limit your location exposure while fitting the risk profile and adjusting as per the risk behavior.

Although companies don't make it easy for you to prevent your geolocation data and realize that this feature is buried deep inside your smartphone's privacy settings while recording your daily routine by default.

Frequent locations keep track of your location, where you go, and how long you stay at an "XYZ" location, for instance. Not only this, but it also knows your home location and work location while counting down your number of visits.

I understand that this is unsettling. Let us get you basic steps on how you can turn off locations on iOS devices:

1. Navigate settings and go to Privacy

2. Scroll down to location services and then system preferences

3. Go to significant locations to view your device's notice on the recorded log, and toggle it OFF immediately. You can see clear your history on your screen, click on this option, and opt for it.

Alter your location settings for your Android devices by following these steps:

1. Go to settings and scroll down to advanced/location on your device

2. Navigate to use location and turn it OFF

3. Delete Location History. This can be found at the bottom of the Location History screen. You can click it to delete your device's location.

Note: You must repeat this process for each Google Account you have on your Android smartphone.

Limit the tracking

Ceasing location tracking entirely is extreme. Fortunately, iOS and Android provide options to limit the tracking and minimize it to an acceptable level. Please note that this function will not get you rid of the company's advertisement entirely but will limit the advertisement profiles.

iPad, iPhone, and iPod Devices

1. Click on settings and tap privacy the advertising

2. You will see the Limit Ad Tracking option, which is toggled OFF by default. Toggle it ON.

Android Devices

1. Navigate settings and tap google, then ads

2. Turn ON Opt-out of ads personalization.

Keep an eye on your browser – especially Google Chrome.

Google devices have a habit of storing your geolocation data. This is certainly possible when you have tweaked your privacy settings on Android and iOS.

Turn off Web and App Activity:

1. Sign in to your Google Account and go to data and personalization

2. You can see Web and App Activity under the Activity Controls. Toggle it OFF.

Note no. 1 You can click on YouTube History or Web & App Activity to manage activity for some time. Furthermore, you can click on the three-button menu at the top right of the Google Page to keep activity for the modified time frame.

Note no. 2 – Pausing the location won't turn off Google Location Markers. It will stop the movement to your timeline. The location data is still saved on your Web & App Activity.

Note no. 3 – plainly straightforward: You can pause your Web & App Activity by toggling it as illustrated above – with this feature, none of your activity will be chased, tracked, or stored.

A different browser for stealthy browsing

You can use incognito mode on Google to limit the tracking of your activity/location. Mozilla's free Firefox app eradicates passwords and browsing activity/history. Safari Browser also allows access to private windows. Just select Private at the bottom right corner of the window.

Online Accounts, what are you up to?

You begin feeding major companies data as soon as you associate your online account with them, for instance, creating an account on Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. The information could range from location, personality, and preferences. The click trick algorithm looks after your bit-by-bit preferences used by relevant or targeted ads.

In some other space

Canon (just like Garmin) falls victim to a ransomware attack where Maze – a ransomware group, claimed to have stolen 10 TB of data from Canon. They have threatened to dump if they are left unpaid.

This week, a Twitter Bug was disclosed amidst a pile of Twitter security woes, allowing hackers to surreptitiously slide into the influential DMs (especially using Android 8 or 9 devices). It was declared that 4 percent of users never updated their Twitter app. This made them vulnerable to security threats – thus remaining exposed to unwanted threats.

Take-home message:

Since privacy is more valued today, we want you to take this seriously as it is a fundamental right. Sim Swapping and identity thefts are growing in line with these malicious activities and should be protected. Efani respects your privacy, and their proprietary technology provides 11 layers of client-side integrity, privacy, and authentication.

Want Guaranteed Protection Against SIM Swap? Reach Out to Us.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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