The mobile phone has come a long, long way in the past 20 years. At the turn of the millennium Nokia were kings of the industry, colour screens were a fantasy and battery life was measured in days rather than hours. Fast forward to today and, while the Finnish phone giants are clutching at straws to stay relevant, our little pocket devices are more connected than ever before.
Almost anyone we could wish to talk to is just an instant message away, and with the highly anticipated rollout of 5G due to take place in the not too distant future, phones are only going to become much more ingrained in our day to day lives, as if they weren’t already. But with everything we do now seemingly able to be tracked and traced though our devices, doesn’t this pose a major security risk?
The digital world can be a wonderful place of opportunity and innovation, but the horror stories always make the headlines. Perhaps most famously, the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2016 saw the political consulting firm harvest the data of 80 million Facebook users in order to target political advertisements that ultimately impacted the results in the election of Donald Trump as U.S President, and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
More recently, Apple have come under serious scrutiny after their Facetime flaw was exposed earlier this year. Making use of the app’s new group call feature, which was released months before, users could listen to audio captured by other people’s microphones before they had picked up a call, essentially taking wiretapping to the global market. Should they silence the call, rather than decline, it would also start broadcasting video. Two years ago, similar security fears were highlighted when Snapchat released Snap Maps, allowing users’ locations to be tracked wherever they were at any time of day.
As connectivity increases, we are putting more and more trust in the hands of the world’s tech giants, but we’re yet to be convinced that they should have such power. More data is being captured than ever before and our mobile phones play a huge part in that – for example, Google is searched 3.5 billion times per day, with more than half of those searches coming from our mobiles. If you’re logged into your Google account, your search history is stored online and can be accessed from anywhere with nothing more than a single password, with 1.2 billion unique emails and passwords being leaked in the most recent Collection #2-5 dump. It’s easy to see how these things can quickly unravel.
There are currently more connected devices in the world than there have ever been with around 17.8 billion active devices having access to the internet, and that’s only set to continue increasing. More connections mean more data is being procured and subsequently stored by the world biggest tech companies. Although some are enhancing security measures with multi-factor authentication and biometric scans – Microsoft has now introduced the ability to login to your computer with a fingerprint, following in the footsteps of smartphones – as more data makes its way on to the cloud, security becomes an ever-increasing risk. There have been countless leaks of personal information from cloud-based storage systems; couple that with basic flaws in software like Apple’s Facetime and serious questions are raised about how much we can trust these tech giants – it seems we can’t.
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