Putting an end to data octopuses: step by step explanation: how to prevent your smartphone from spying on you

The curiosity and collection mania of many technology companies knows no bounds and does not stop at your smartphone either. FOCUS Online shows you what you can do to protect your privacy.

  • Many apps access data they don’t need to function
  • The mobile operating systems iOS and Android are also watching you
  • You can protect your privacy by specifically restricting permissions

It’s no secret that there are many smartphone apps that collect data to be used in one way or another. What data is requested by an app and what happens to this information is not entirely unimportant, however, and should encourage you to think about it and, if necessary, take action.

On the one hand, there are apps that relatively well-behaved only want to access the information they need to function. On the other hand, there are still the black sheep whose developers want to make money by selling personalized data. Collect data that is not necessary for the app to work, and then resell it in some circumstances.

Location tracking in the background

A trend that is also becoming more prevalent are apps that want to continuously track your location – even if you don’t use the program. In return, you receive information tailored to your location, for example, but you should still ask yourself whether it is really worth it. Do you want companies like Apple, Google and co. Know at any time where you are and for how long, where you prefer to shop or in which restaurants you go out to eat?

Check app permissions

Fortunately, Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) have responded to criticism from privacy advocates over the years and offer you the ability to revoke unnecessary permissions from individual apps in their latest mobile operating systems. However, you need to be a bit sensitive here, because some apps will not work if you do not give them the necessary permissions.

The already mentioned location data is essential for navigation programs like Google Maps, which rely on GPS data to locate your position. Likewise, an app like Instagram won’t work if you don’t give it access to the camera. However, if a flashlight app wants permission to access your location, that should make you wonder.

Settings for iPhone users

In iOS 9, iPhone users have the option in the menu Settings> Privacy Remove apps from accessing your contacts, emails, photos and calendar. You limit the location access separately in the menu Settings> privacy> Location services a. If you don’t want to turn off location services completely (i.e. grant location access to one or more apps), you should also take a look at the submenu System services throw.

For here you will find the services that Apple uses to track and try to exploit your activities. After you have deactivated these services, you should finally go to the submenu Frequent locations also turn off this service and for maximum privacy additionally delete the history of your previously visited places.

Android-Guide XXL as PDF download

How Android users prevent themselves from being spied on

Because Apple produces the operating systems for its devices itself, many users enjoy new iOS versions and the associated features at relatively the same time. Meanwhile, over 70% of iPhones and iPads are running iOS 9 with its advanced security features, while only 0.7% of all Android users are already running Android 6. The comfortable management of app permissions is thus for the time being only a reality for a small part of the users. In the new Android version, permissions (as with iOS 9) are no longer granted when the app is installed in the store, but are only requested when necessary while the app is being used.

If you are one of those who own a smartphone with Android 6, you can set the app permissions in Settings> Apps set. If you select an app here, they can be accessed at Permissions determine whether they want to access camera, memory, location, etc. may access.

Users of smartphones with older Android versions (with the exception of 4.3, which also offers app permissions) should continue to pay close attention to the permissions they agree to when installing apps. If you are no longer sure about certain apps, you can always check the permissions in the Play Store and delete the apps if necessary. However, you can also prohibit location access completely with older Android versions. To do this, go to the settings on Location.

For the use of apps that need a GPS signal, you have to temporarily enable the location access again. Just like Apple with iOS, Google regularly tries to grab location data from your device with its mobile operating system. If you want to prohibit this, you can also find the corresponding setting in the submenu Location at Google Location History. To stop tracking, you need to disable it. To eliminate the data collected so far, you can also delete the location history right here.

Conclusion: protect your privacy

In the digital age, your privacy is an important asset to protect. Whether location data, contacts or photos – certain data is private and should remain so. That’s why you should carefully choose the apps you trust with your data, and even then, only ever reveal as much of yourself as is actually necessary.

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