Tom Gaffney is a cybersecurity specialist at F-Secure
Many of the world’s most popular apps have questionable terms of service and misuse private data to make money, according to a cybersecurity expert.
Tom Gaffney, cybersecurity expert at F-Secure, tells DailyMail.com there are several popular apps that he would never use due to fear of what they do with private data.
He says that by having data monitored by “big tech” companies, they can decide what we see online, and that we are “defined by what computer algorithms decide for us.”
Digital voice assistants like Alexa are serious privacy risks, says Gaffney.
The devices listen for “wake words” before they kick in, but listen to them all the time – and record and process snippets of your voice in data centers far from your home.
Gaffney says, “I don’t use them at all, but for those who do, I wouldn’t put them in the bathroom or bedroom.” Although they wake up with trigger words, they listen for a few seconds afterwards.
“It is designed that the data goes to a central cloud, in reality the processing could be done much more securely on the device, at home.”
Uber has a history of privacy concerns, says Gaffney.
In addition to a massive data breach, the company also faced controversy over a “God View” that allowed employees to see where app users were.
Gaffney says: “Their previous head of security was indicted for withholding a past data breach in 2016 and there have been driver data leaks in 2022 and more recently this year.
Amazon’s digital assistant has a dedicated app that powers all of the company’s devices. Says Gaffney, “I don’t use them at all, but for those who do, I wouldn’t put them in the bathroom or bedroom”
Gaffney says Meta-owned WhatsApp’s “end-to-end” encryption – encrypting content so only the communicating users can see the messages – is a positive step, but he will no longer use WhatsApp because it shares data with Facebook.
He says, “WhatsApp has been providing the same user data since 2020 and combining it with Facebook because they have the same ownership. I quit WhatsApp when they changed their terms and conditions.”
Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan confessed in 2020 that he “really screwed up the app’s security” when hackers were able to crash meetings due to security flaws.
The app doesn’t have the best encryption – it’s actually below the industry standard.
This vulnerability allows cybercriminals to easily intercept and access your data.
Photo editing apps
Certain apps such as Pro Camera Beauty, Art Editor and Selfie Camera Pro are alleged to steal users’ data, She thinks reports.
Trend Micro Labs researchers found that 29 photo editing and beauty apps contained code that allowed them to perform malicious activities on smartphones.
While the malicious activities usually go unnoticed, the report found that the apps created shortcuts to hide the icon when users tried to uninstall the app.
Researchers found that some users who downloaded the photo-editing apps received ads for pornography or fraudulent content when they unlocked their devices.
Weather apps track your location to show you the best forecasts, but by doing this you also allow the apps to collect your data.
NordVPNa group of online security experts, said, “After you give permission, the app tracks your location 24/7 and sells this data to advertisers, which can compromise your phone’s security and privacy.
“Weather apps sell data about where you work, how you commute, who your doctor is and what gym you attend.”
What are the companies saying?
DailyMail.com has reached out to the companies for comment.
An Uber spokesperson said: “More than 118 million active users trust Uber with their data and privacy. Uber has taken robust measures to prevent loss or unauthorized use of personal data.”
A spokesperson for Meta said: ‘Protecting the privacy and security of people’s data is fundamental to how our business operates.
“That’s why we’ve invested heavily in features like Privacy Check-up and Privacy Basics to provide transparency and controls so people can understand and manage their privacy preferences.”
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We ensure that customer data is protected at all times. This includes customers’ Alexa voice recordings that are securely stored in the Amazon cloud.