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Old 06-08-2012, 07:20 AM   #31
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It's only going to get worse until companies start to require explicit permission for everything the app does when it comes to accessing other data on the phone, location info and especially sending any of that back to a server. Followed by the possibility of fines for abuses of that (i.e sending data without asking permission, or sending unrelated/none essential data). It's no longer just malware apps you've to worry about, but apps from all companies who are willing to breach privacy to gain an advantage, especially for targeted advertising.

I think we'll reach a point not too far in the future where all app makers have to explicitly lay out on their website every bit of data their app collects and transmits back to their servers + the reason for it. Then any "extra" data that is sent would result in fines if it's believed to be a privacy violation as the user has not consented to it.

I won't use Microsoft's zune store on the windows phone because their EULA states that using it requires various services to be enabled so MS can send usage data back to their servers (one of which is location services). There's no way to opt-out of that unlike with most apps. I don't want them sending anything other than absolutely essential data to their servers (such as the name of the app/music I'm searching for), there's a reason I have location services off by default and no way I'll turn it on just to use their zune app.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:38 AM   #32
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I can actually see that creating some serious waves in a corporate or government environment.
That's actually a very good point. I really do wonder how employers working with confidential or classified information will react to employees using apps that allow third parties to monitor their behaviour (or even just location) without their knowledge.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:40 AM   #33
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That's actually a very good point. I really do wonder how employers working with confidential or classified information will react to employees using apps that allow third parties to monitor their behaviour (or even just location) without their knowledge.
I work in an environment dealing with classified information, and it doesn't go anywhere near mobile devices.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #34
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I work in an environment dealing with classified information, and it doesn't go anywhere near mobile devices.
I don't mean the information itself getting on the devices, but simply being able to track your location and/or behaviour. e.g. if you carry a smartphone to work it can reveal to third parties that you regularly travel to locations handing classified data even if the phone itself is barred from the premises.

Traffic analysis with real traffic

(I'm using the generic "you" here btw, not you specifically Harry)
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:19 PM   #35
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I don't mean the information itself getting on the devices, but simply being able to track your location and/or behaviour. e.g. if you carry a smartphone to work it can reveal to third parties that you regularly travel to locations handing classified data even if the phone itself is barred from the premises.

Traffic analysis with real traffic

(I'm using the generic "you" here btw, not you specifically Harry)
Not just location. If LinkedIn, or any other app, has your calendar then they may also have:

Meeting: Monday, 8:00 am
Location: Some place it might be real easy to park a car bomb (or bugging device)
Subject: Proposed use of drones against Al Queda in Waziristan (and The Pirate Bay helicopter routers)
Attendees: Many, including quite a few we'd like to blow up.
Classification: We just got penetrated
Possible Attachments: Minutes of previous meeting with conclusions and action plan synced from Outlook.

I'm sure MI6 and the Special Branch would be very pleased with that.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:40 AM   #36
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Well, I rather doubt someone who would be trusted to work with classified information would have that sort of thing on their phone (though I thought that about them not simply losing laptops and flashdrives full of classified data too) but a lot can be gleaned just from which people are at which places at which times.

e.g. noting that a lot of the people who travel to $CLASSIFIED_LOCATION also seem to stop by $INTERESTING_OTHER_PLACE regularly is valuable all by itself, along with the identities of other people who also go there. All it needs is for people to carry a trackable mobile device in their car and a compliant advertiser.

...

I think years of reading about security and the data trails we leave without realising it has warped my brain; now I'm wondering how many red flags I've set off
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Old 06-09-2012, 04:32 AM   #37
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Well, I rather doubt someone who would be trusted to work with classified information would have that sort of thing on their phone (though I thought that about them not simply losing laptops and flashdrives full of classified data too) but a lot can be gleaned just from which people are at which places at which times.
It would depend on how much information you put in your calendar, but in corporate circles it's very common to sync calendars via Outlook and everything but the minute attachment is very likely to be in a meeting request/memo sent via Outlook. According to the article all that information was being sent to LinkedIn along with stuff like the login codes for teleconferences, so anyone with the data could even listen in to your Monday morning teleconference, those codes are not one time use or very secure.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #38
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Getting away from mundane ads and super spy stuff, there are other worries about what mischief these ID cookies might cause. For example someone might be able to identify and gather information on a person through the associations of the magic cookie and social media. Then far worse than targeted ads would be:

1. the theft of passwords, IDs to use for online theft
2. blackmail because the device user frequents places of ill repute.

For example the identity of the target has been established through cookies. It has been established that the Facebook of the target is big on church, marriage and children.
Then cross referencing determines that the target frequents gambline, porn or alternative sex sites. Even worse. kiddie porn.
Blackmail is very possible.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:46 AM   #39
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It would depend on how much information you put in your calendar, but in corporate circles it's very common to sync calendars via Outlook and everything but the minute attachment is very likely to be in a meeting request/memo sent via Outlook. According to the article all that information was being sent to LinkedIn along with stuff like the login codes for teleconferences, so anyone with the data could even listen in to your Monday morning teleconference, those codes are not one time use or very secure.
I know some people who work with classified information; they're not allowed to bring their phones to the office, much less connect them to the network and use them calendaring or e-mail. (For that matter, their work computers are not connected to the outside world, either.)
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:48 AM   #40
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I know some people who work with classified information; they're not allowed to bring their phones to the office, much less connect them to the network and use them calendaring or e-mail. (For that matter, their work computers are not connected to the outside world, either.)
Precisely - that's exactly the way it is. No phones in classified areas. PCs have no external connections (all ports are disabled) and no internet access.
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Old 06-09-2012, 05:21 PM   #41
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I know some people who work with classified information; they're not allowed to bring their phones to the office, much less connect them to the network and use them calendaring or e-mail. (For that matter, their work computers are not connected to the outside world, either.)
At my work, you can't connect to the network without a hardware dongle to authenticate that machine. However, cellphones are allowed with cameras on them.

Until very recently cameras were outlawed, but security came to the conclusion that they simply can't keep all the cellphones with built in cameras out of the building, so they caved. Certain areas, however are still off limits for phones.
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Old 06-09-2012, 06:13 PM   #42
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Returning to the original point, even if you leave your phone/tablet in the car, hostiles can still determine "this phone spends every work day stationary at a secure location, thus the owner is of interest."

To avoid this you'd need to leave your phone at home, not merely leave it outside work.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:11 PM   #43
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Returning to the original point, even if you leave your phone/tablet in the car, hostiles can still determine "this phone spends every work day stationary at a secure location, thus the owner is of interest."

To avoid this you'd need to leave your phone at home, not merely leave it outside work.
I imagine you could get this information from a phone, but I'm not sure how useful it really would be; the person in question isn't James Bond; he's one of the ten thousands of civilian employees of the US Army. You could tell that he parked at a military facility...but the DOD parking sticker would probably give that away...which, in any event, isn't secret.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:28 AM   #44
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It's only going to get worse until companies start to require explicit permission for everything the app does when it comes to accessing other data on the phone, location info and especially sending any of that back to a server.
I doubt that would work. Look at Android apps, which offer a list of permissions that the applications needs prior to installation. Something like an ereader app should only need file system access and maybe network access. It certainly doesn't need access to any of the telephony functionality. Yet many people in these parts recommend apps that need access to the telephony functions.

This sort of thing has happened over and over again in the history of computers: the facilities are put into place, most people don't care, so the industry has been sliding down the slope to zero privacy.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:35 AM   #45
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I imagine you could get this information from a phone, but I'm not sure how useful it really would be; the person in question isn't James Bond; he's one of the ten thousands of civilian employees of the US Army. You could tell that he parked at a military facility...but the DOD parking sticker would probably give that away...which, in any event, isn't secret.
Well, the problem comes from analysing the data in the aggregate, rather than individually. e.g. if hundreds of DOD employees suddenly start travelling to a new location, it suggests something interesting is there. Even if it's only a new coffee shop, it's still worrying
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