Our phones have become a significant part of our lives, holding large quantities of our personal data on them. Apps that use our data are also a significant part of them, especially given the rise of free apps and services – if you’re not paying, you’re the product – and what these apps have access to is often quite extensive. While Apple’s walled garden does keep many of those with malicious intent away from the App Store, they’re not perfect. There may just be an app that you trust that is doing something with the data you gave it permission for. Here’s how to manage these privacy settings.
The first and most obvious destination is the Privacy section in Settings. Here, you will see sections for various types of data that apps have requested.
By going to one of these sections, and switching the toggle for that app off, then it will not have access to that data any more. So an app that requests Photos access can have it be restricted. Or, if you initially denied access and wish to grant it, you can now do so from this section.
The Location Services section is particularly worth delving into because not only can the icon appear at random times for no apparent reason, but the section to manage it has many wrinkles that the others do not. One, there are variably-colored location icons next to each service, and they may not be apparent to what they mean until you scroll to the bottom, where iOS explains what each icon means.
What this means is that you can see on this section which apps are currently requesting your location, not just which apps have access to your location. If an app is continually causing the location services icon to appear in the status bar (and potentially draining your battery), you can see which apps are the culprit here. Often times, apps that use location services can have settings disabled from within the app to have their recurring location check disappear, as having loaction access enabled periodically may be key to your usage of the app. As well, the System Services section shows several system functions that use your location, including one for Location-Based iAds that can modify the types of ads you see.
Hopefully these tips have helped you manage your privacy better, and you have a greater understanding of the types of access that iOS apps and system functions have to your data.
Now, there’s one particular advertising-related privacy setting that’s not in Privacy that’s worth considering. Go to Settings→General→About and scroll all the way down to Advertising. Tap on this, and you’ll see a setting for Limit Ad Tracking. By enabling this, then services that identify your device by the Apple Advertising Identifier cannot track you based on this. This means that advertisements will be less targeted to you.
While sordid and illicit motives spring to mind when we think of reasons for having a burner cell, the truth is there are dozens of legitimate uses for hiding your iPhone’s real number. Case in point, we all deal with tons of developers and publishers here and sometimes they want to actually speak – like on a telephone, rather than email, IM, Skype, or FaceTime. It’s also useful to have a dedicated and private number if you are hosting a public event, selling something, or meeting people on the Internet. Whatever your motivation. Burner – Disposable Phone Numbers offers a paid service for iPhone owners that replicates the toss-away cellular phones made famous in every gangster movie and crime TV show of the past several decades.
The app has a one time purchase price, and then you buy burners using credits purchased in-app, the virtual equivalent of disposal cell phones. They add a layer of privacy to your call, displaying whatever caller ID name you want and a useable phone number on the other end. Burners work for texts too. A one-week mini burner good for 20 calls and 60 texts costs $1.99 while $4.99 will get you two months with 75 voice and 225 texts. There are also extension packs and you can add as many burners as you need. If you do online dating, you might want one for that, while you might want another to manage a craigslist help-wanted post.
Once a number is gone, it stays gone, leaving no traces back to you. Just play nice – the possibilities for mayhem-making with this app are endless.
Many people have privacy concerns when it comes to social networks such as Facebook, understandably so, especially when dealing with images of family members such as children.
Burst is the latest app hoping to encourage users away from bigger networks, with a focus on sharing just with close friends and family. The app requires just one touch to capture then store and organize mobile videos and photos. It’s then simple to share such moments with the special people in one’s life.
Burst can tag and title those moments along with information from the user’s calendar with everything securely stored in the cloud.
Users can restrict who views the content and be notified via Push notifications, email or SMS when a family member comments on the images.
For those looking for a more secure social networking app, Burst will prove invaluable.
The best private browsing experience has been released for the iPhone. We know this because of the name, Best Secret Browser.
Best Secret Browser, brought to us by the folks at RV AppStudios, makes it easy to delete histories, cookies, and bookmarks. This browser is especially useful for families or friends who enjoy sharing iOS devices. Users can feel safe using Best Secret Browser to surf the web privately with confidence that no one will be able to see their browsing history.
Some features include multi-tabbed browsing, an option to auto clear cookies and history, full screen mode, custom font sizes, break-in attempts by nosy friends and enemies are displayed as a badge on the icon, and a security lock system.
A log history is available to track unsuccessful password attempts. The history displays successful logins, failed logins, pin changes, and more information.
Having been in a long distance relationship, I know how tough it is to maintain regular contact and intimacy with a significant other. It’s apps like Cupple that could go some way to ensuring that couples always feel close to each other.
Cupple is a private social networking app aimed specifically at two people in a relationship. It allows users to share various details just between the two of them such as galleries of photos, private messages and even locations so that each person knows where the other person is. In each case, images or notes can be added for the personal touch.
The key thing is that it encourages intimacy. It’s the kind of app that’s particularly ideal for the couple who have to frequently travel for work but still want to keep in regular contact, even if it’s simply to say they saw something and thought of the other person.
Cupple is a free to download app and is available now.
Sometimes it’s not always convenient to provide a real mobile phone number to someone. Say I’m going out on a first date with someone. What if it goes so badly that I want nothing to do with them ever again? I don’t mean in a cruel way but what if the date is a little creepy and clingy? It’d be a little unnerving to know that they can always get in touch and potentially pester me via SMS or phone call. A similar problem can occur when providing phone numbers to eBay sellers or buyers or people on Craigslist. Sometimes it’s just not convenient to provide a regular phone number. This is where RingShuffle can help.
It’s an app that provides temporary phone numbers that redirect to any mobile number. It’s then easy to delete this temporary number or ‘shuffle’ along to get a new one. Launched in beta this week to the first 10,000 users who register, there’s a lot of potential here.
Each RingShuffle number lasts for seven days with the option to manually extend this to 14 days. Calls are forwarded without the caller knowing what’s gone, thus narrowing the odds of causing offense. It’s an app that’s tailored to those looking for a short term solution for brief uses just like the first date or online transaction.
As the video below shows, RingShuffle is very easy to use with it taking mere seconds to register and choose a number. Area codes can be selected before a choice of Shuffle numbers appear for selection. Then all the user has to do is hand it out to the relevant person and no one need know that it’s not a permanent number.
For short term transactions, RingShuffle is an ideal app to sign up for in order to protect the user’s privacy.
Thanks to the internet, everything is very public nowadays. Privacy to an extent is dead for anyone who uses one of countless social networks. Tweet regularly and your life is out there. Even have a Facebook account that’s heavily restricted and there’s still the chance of it all coming out. Throw in a plethora of location aware social networks such as Foursquare and any random member of the public can have their life opened up as much as a major celebrity.
Not everyone wants that though. Sure it’s nice to be able to have a corner of the web to share with close friends, family or work colleagues but how to make sure that only the selected people can see anything? How about an app like Glassboard?
It’s an app that allows users to share things privately with groups of people, or boards as the app prefers to call them. Users can message a group of people quickly and easily in a format that looks like an SMS text message but it isn’t. Text isn’t the only restriction either with the ability to share photos and videos amongst this elite group. Even locations can be shared, potentially making it useful to arrange family gatherings. Suddenly, everyone can keep track of how far away people are from the meeting place. A notification system keeps everyone up to date on any situation whether it be a team meeting, social gathering or simply a work issue being discussed.
Security is tight here with only the board chairman or group leader able to invite people to the group. Users can’t even search for different boards ensuring there’s absolutely no chance of anyone stumbling across anything.
For the privacy conscious user, Glassboard is the ideal solution ensuring that they get a taste of social networking without the potential security issues.
After a bit of a false start last week, Google has officially launched its Latitude app for the iPhone. The free app allows users to continuously broadcast their location to friends and family as well as see where other contacts are on a map at any time. The app also allows for background updating, allowing Latitude to continue to track where you are even when the app is closed.
For those concerned about privacy issues Google reminds you that the app is 100 percent opt-in, and your current location will only be shared with friends who you have added and approved to your account. Furthermore, users are free to turn off both the background tracking at any time, and you can also hide your current location or log out entirely if you aren’t feeling particularly social. It may not be enough to persuade the truly paranoid to try Latitude, but for the Foursquare crowd this is just about the perfect app.
It’s also worth noting that Latitude has been available to iOS users as a web application for quite a while now, but this is the first time it’s been presented as a native app. Thus, Google has built the app with the iPhone 4 in mind so users will need a device such as an iPhone 4 or 3GS which is running iOS 4 or above to support the service. If you’re still clinging to an original iPhone or iPod Touch then sorry, but it’s not going to work. The app will also work with the iPad, but considering it’s more of a mobile geolocating service it might not be terribly useful for tablet owners. In any event, Latitude is now officially here for iPhone users, so get out there and continue oversharing all the details of your life, including where you’re standing at any given second.
Users attempting to sign into Apple’s Game Center have been prompted with a new Terms of Service (ToS) agreement which they must pretend to read and then agree to before they’re allowed to access the service. Turns out this is one of the times when maybe we should have read the fine print, as the latest provisions now allow Game Center to give out players’ real names to other users. The note attached to the update reads:
“IMPORTANT NOTE: We have changed the Game Center terms and conditions to provide you notice that if you send a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the recipient. If you accept a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the sender.”
On the surface, this isn’t a big deal. After all, if you’re sending or receiving friend requests you likely already know who it’s coming from, or it might be helpful to have a real name to go along with a username so you know that xXX_Princess Spanx_xXx is your buddy Mike.Still, below the surface this change of policy sends up some privacy red flags, as it shows Apple’s willingness to unilaterally share your identity with others, whether you want them to or not.
What makes the move somewhat unnerving is the fact that it’s not an opt-in option, but rather a requirement in order to use Game Center. Apple has basically decided they want to blow the very concept of online anonymity out of the water, so that now if you want to use one of their most popular services, you must also put yourself out there to the public. It seems like Apple may be heading down the Blizzard Real ID route on a smaller scale, and we all remember how that turned out. If it comes right down to it, will you give up a piece of your privacy to continue using Game Center?
Facebook is one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, and as of today it’s getting an important privacy update. New in version 3.3.2 is the ability to change your privacy and account settings directly from the app itself. Previously, Facebook users would have to log into Facebook.com in their browser in order to change settings, but those practically prehistoric days are now far behind us.
Actually, we shouldn’t get too excited just yet as the requirement to go into the browser hasn’t been removed, but rather reworked so it’s slightly less cumbersome. Now whenever users pull up their account they’ll be presented with the ability to tap a button to chance their privacy and security settings. Once tapped, the app redirects the user to their settings on Facebook.com, allowing them to make and save changes. So even though you still have to go to the website to actually make any changes, at least now you can start the process from the app. Hopefully this will be a springboard to even more streamlined implementation down the road.
The privacy and account settings are really the only noteworthy additions in this update, as the rest of the content is just bug fixes and performance boosts. Sort of an underwhelming update really, with the only new feature only being half-implemented in a process most folks don’t use their iPhone for in the first place. Then again, after Facebook’s recent slam of Apple’s iPad as not truly a mobile device, relations between the two companies might be a bit frosty. Still, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for some sort of major update in Facebook 3.3.3, because with such a nicely numbered update we’re well within our rights to expect a major new feature.
When it comes to areas of our personal life that are sacred, I would consider my top three to be religion, relationship status and browser history. While I have never been one for perusing sites of ill repute, occasionally a twitter link may send me awry, not to mention a not-so-well thought out Google search for girls and teacups. These indiscretions aside, I have always been one for protecting myself against the prying eye of “big brother.” I swear, I’m not paranoid, but what if I told you that your iPhone may be revealing more about you than many thought possible?
If a new report authored by Bucknell University Assistant Director of Information Security and Networking, Eric Smith, is to be believed, you may be revealing far more about yourself than you realize.
“…Amazon’s application communicates the logged-in user’s real name in plain text, along with the UDID, permitting both Amazon.com and network eavesdroppers to easily match a phone’s UDID with the name of the phone’s owner. The CBS News application transmits both the UDID and the iPhone device’s user-assigned name, which frequently contains the owner’s real name” — VIA Smith’s Report
Sure, these may be isolated examples of only two different applications that are passing back your personal information, but when a poll was conducted of fifty-seven free applications on the App Store, sixty-eight percent passed along your UDID to their servers. When you combine that with cookies that have a twenty year expiration cycle, as noted by ArsTechnica’s formal report, this could be a serious cause for concern.
All it would take is a bit of social engineering for an industrious person to connect the dots and suddenly your secrets would be no more. This information isn’t typically shared amongst other sites, but this information is being logged and you better assume that some day these companies plan to cash in. I am calling it now, Skynet is coming — so be careful where you are surfing.