How to Prevent Location Tracking
GPS systems on modern cell phones are constantly keeping track of our location information and storing it for future reference. It is a helpful feature if you want to locate a misplaced phone or decide on the best route for a trip, but apps, ad companies, and even hackers may access your location, sometimes without your permission.
To ensure your privacy, you've come to the right place. This guide will teach you how to keep tabs on your location data and identify if your phone had monitored.
11 Ways to Keep People (and Organizations) from Tracking Your Phone Activity
You can prevent people from tracking your phone and protecting your GPS data by taking specific steps.
- Disable location services
- Use a private browser
- Scan for and remove spyware
- Remove unfamiliar apps
- Turn on airplane mode
- Use a VPN
- Protect your Google account
- Avoid public Wi-Fi that isn't password protected
- Disable location tracking on social media apps
- Lock your SIM card
- Turn off your phone
Disable Location Services
When you install an application for the first time, you may see a notification asking permission to access your current location. Many clicks "Allow" without thinking, but it is not always the best option. By granting an app access to your location, you may be offering it to store and track your GPS data even when you are not using it. This data may then had sold to advertisers, hedge funds, or other organizations for profit.
You can do so in your phone's settings to disable apps from tracking your location. Also, you can turn off location services entirely. If location services shut off, anyone may still track your phone, but the apps won't be able to use your location.
To turn off location services on an Apple or Android device, perform the following steps:
- Open the location settings menu of your phone, and then click on the location
- Turn the location services switch off.
- Click on the Privacy option in your phone's settings
- Click on Location Service
- Disable location sharing
Use a Private Browser
Online browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox can use your location to target ads or personalize search results. It can be helpful if you are looking for restaurants in your neighborhood or things to do, but it also means the browser keeps a constant record of your location and other personal data.
To lower the chance of your IP address, location, and other sensitive information had compromised through your online activity, you should turn off location tracking in your browser's privacy settings or use a private browser. Private search engines like DuckDuckGo and manager allow you to browse the web without obtaining your IP address, location, or search data. It makes it less likely that hackers will be able to access your location or other sensitive data by examining your online activity.
Scan for and Remove Spyware
Hackers can infect devices with spyware and collect and sell sensitive information. If a malicious app or file downloads to your phone, an attacker can use it to access your location information.
You can remove spyware from your phone by installing a spyware removal tool. The simplest method to do this is by downloading a spyware removal tool. You may also have your antivirus app scan your device for malware and provide removal instructions. However, some apps claim to be fraudulent antivirus tools, so research legitimate apps before downloading them.
Remove Unfamiliar Apps
If a hacker infected your phone with spyware, an unfamiliar app or download could be a sign. Malicious downloads often download to steal login credentials, digital activity, and even GPS data. The easiest way to avoid these sorts of approaches is to remove any unfamiliar apps immediately.
Turn on Airplane Mode
You can put your smartphone into airplane mode when you suspect someone is using your mobile activity to track your device. Cellular networks are disabled, and some online services cannot obtain your location, making this option an excellent option to temporarily block online services. Although you cannot access the internet or make calls while your device is in airplane mode, you'll need to look for a more permanent solution.
Use a VPN
One of the most effective strategies for thwarting hackers, corporations, and advertisements from spying on your IP address and location is to employ a trustworthy VPN. An external server is encrypted and routed your online activity through a VPN. If an outsider wanted to see the source of your activity, it would follow the path of numerous VPN servers instead of your actual router. It keeps your connection secure and prevents hackers from tracking your location, IP address, or online activities.
Protect Your Google Account
Ensure your location settings on your Google account are correct to avoid sharing your location with unintended parties. If you have shared the location with anyone in the past, they may be able to access it via Google.
Even without a Google app, you can track your past movements via Google. It might be helpful to remember where you've been or to see where you've been, but hackers may be able to find out where you've been if they infiltrate your Google account.
Make sure to change your password and privacy settings regularly to keep your Google account safe and protect your location information from intruders. You can also delete your movement history or turn off Google location tracking on your device's settings menu.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi That Isn't Password Protected
Public Wi-Fi connections are always vulnerable, especially if they are without passwords. Hackers frequently use public Wi-Fi to perform man-in-the-middle, evil twin, and other cyberattacks to install malware or steal sensitive data. To avoid spyware on your phone, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi whenever possible and only connect to password-protected networks.
Disable Location Tracking on Social Media Apps
Social media apps are fantastic for connecting with friends and family or monitoring your favorite celebrities. Still, their location tracking and data collection capacities make them a veritable goldmine for corporations and hackers. It would help if you disabled location tracking to prevent people from using Instagram or Facebook to collect sensitive data or track your location.
You can restrict the app from storing location data by turning off location sharing for social media applications in your mobile settings. You also can turn off location tracking or block access in the app settings. You cannot wholly prevent the application from storing your location data, but restricting access may make it more difficult for others to access it.
Turn Off Your Phone
If you find out someone is tracking your phone and needs a quick solution, turning it off will ultimately block communications with networks and GPS data. The tracker, however, might still be able to track your last known location while your device is off.
Disabling tracking services is a quick way to help protect your privacy when you're in danger or don't have time to do so, but it isn't a permanent solution. After turning your phone back on, you'll need to take additional steps to secure it and remove unwanted apps or malware.
Lock Your SIM Card
Even if you don't use a smartphone, hackers or government agencies may be able to track your device's location if they have access to your SIM card. A SIM card connects to local cell towers to enable you to make calls, send text messages, and use cellular data. Because your SIM card is unique to your device, it may allow you to track your phone's location if it is lost or stolen. Unfortunately, hackers may intercept messages between your SIM card and mobile provider to gain access to your location data.
You can help safeguard your mobile device by performing a SIM card lock. Before doing this, however, you must verify your SIM card's identification number (PIN) (or personal identification number). It would help to guess the incorrect PIN sparingly, as this could block you from using your SIM card entirely. If unsure, you should contact your service provider to find the PIN.
To lock your SIM card, perform the following steps:
- In the Settings menu, you can find your phone settings under Security or Biometrics and Security. Click on Other Security Settings and select Set up SIM card lock. Then, enable the Lock SIM card option.
- Open your phone's settings menu and click on Cellular; select SIM PIN, and then enter the default PIN.
When your device's PIN is locked, you should change it so that others can't use the original PIN.
Who Can Track Your Location?
Cell phone users can also benefit from accessing the location of their phones. The following groups and organizations use digital activity and location data to track cell phone users:
Digital advertisers frequently target advertisements based on users' locations, behaviors, and online activities. Since so many browsers, apps, and websites gather and store our location data, it's easy for advertisers to access it. Companies routinely sell large amounts of user information to advertisers without users' consent.
Apps and Websites
Each time you go online or connect, apps and websites collect data on your location. They do this to provide personalized products and services and connect you with friends and family in your area. If you open the location settings on your phone, you'll see which apps can access your location.
Hackers can also obtain sensitive data such as GPS or other information from mobile devices by hacking into them. In addition to profit from marketing and business enterprises. Companies and advertisers might also want to profit from your personal information and location. Some standard methods hackers use to do this include hijacking your online profiles, installing malware, or obtaining access to your social media accounts.
Government agencies collect people's locations and personal data through tech companies without obtaining warrants. Federal agencies in the U.S. are only sometimes clear about how they use the data they gather without a warrant, but they do it all the time.
As per the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. government bought mobile phone location records from a commercial database for immigration enforcement in 2020. Location tracking was also used during the COVID-19 pandemic to enforce social distancing orders and aid in contact tracing.
Friends and Family
Some apps are specifically designed for parents and family members to keep track of each other's whereabouts to safeguard them. Children's location services app Life360, parent-monitoring apps Kidslox and FamiSafe, and crash notification app are among the most famous examples.
You can see your friends' locations using Snapchat if the app installs on your phone. Check the app's settings to see who can see your location if you have Snapchat or a location-sharing app installed. These apps usually aren't harmful, but verifying that only approved individuals can see your location is essential.
How to Detect if Your Phone Is Being Tracked?
The presence of malware on a device is difficult to detect as it designs to be inconspicuous. However, if you notice the following signs, you may have been infected with spyware.
Data Usage is Higher Than Normal
If your monthly data usage is higher than usual, it could indicate that a hacker has installed spyware on your phone. Data is used to send information back to the hacker's device, so you will likely notice data use increases when these apps run in the background.
Your Battery Dies Quickly
A phone's battery can quickly drain for various reasons, but an increase in battery life or a hotter phone may signal that your phone had got hacked. An app may track a user's location and drain your phone's battery quickly.
Your Phone Restarts or Lights Up Unexpectedly
An application running in the background on your phone may cause it to light up, restart, or perform other unexpected actions. You should perform an antivirus scan and review your location permissions if you notice that your phone lights up or performs any unprompted actions.
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