Surveillance

Is YOUR phone spying on you? Shocking report reveals how Samsung devices can monitor what you view online using ultrasonic tracking

Shivali Best
The Daily Mail

A shocking report has revealed that Samsung phones are using technology that can spy on users through a technique called ‘beaconing.’

The creepy technology can monitor everything you’re reading and watching online, including personal emails and even porn.

In light of the findings, the Open Rights Group is calling for Samsung to own up and switch off the technology.

A ‘beacon’, which is often embedded in web pages or hidden in online adverts, alerts the phone to switch on this spy mode.

The shocking findings were revealed by Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, while speaking with The Sun Online.

Mr Killock told The Sun: ‘Samsung want to get to know you – but they are behaving like a peeping Tom.

‘Samsung have taken spying on their customers to a whole new level.

‘What you can’t see, and can’t hear, won’t worry you — or so it hopes.

‘It needs to own up and switch it off before their customers wise up and ditch them.’

The creepy technology is explained in the firm’s privacy policy, in which it says it is used for a ‘variety of purposes’, including analysing how phones are used.

The privacy policy states: ‘We, along with certain third parties, also may use technologies called beacons or pixels that communicate information from your device to a server.

‘Beacons can be embedded in online content, videos and emails and allow a server to read certain types of information from your device, know when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message, determine the time and date on which you viewed the beacon and the IP address of your device.’

The report comes just weeks after Google banned an army of Android apps that use beacons to spy on users.

Researchers revealed that hundreds of Android applications are embedded with ultrasonic cross-device tracking technology that pick up the inaudible beacons emitted from advertisements.

‘A recent practice embeds ultrasonic beacons in audio and tracks them using the microphone on mobile devices,’ reads a study from Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany.

‘This side channel allows an adversary to identify a user’s current location, spy on her TV viewing happens or link together her different mobile devices’.

While conducting their investigation, the team found 234 Android apps were made using the publicly available tracking software.

And these apps were found to listen ‘in the background without the user’s knowledge’.

The researchers from Braunschweig University of Technology found many of the apps that contain the code were developed for large companies such as McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme.

Instead of tracking the user with the smartphone’s GPS it uses the audio beacon emitted from the loudspeakers positioned at the entrance of a store to determine whether the consumer had walked into the store.

Game apps were also found to partake in this ‘threat to privacy’.

ZDNET reported that games, such as Pino Henyo, are designed to open a user’s smartphone microphone without them knowing and listen for ultrasonic tones.

Google announced that all the apps discovered in the study have been either suspended or updated to meet privacy policies.

MailOnline has contacted Samsung for comment.

REPORT FINDS 99.9% OF MALWARE TARGETS ANDROIDS

A shocking 99.9% of malware targets Android devices over Apple phones, a new report has found.

The Internet Society of China and National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center (CNCERT) discovered there has been a 39 per cent increase in malware this year.

And the vast majority of computer bugs are aimed at Android devices.

Experts said Android devices are easier to target as security measures are fragmented and vary from company to company.

In comparison, just 4.9 per cent of Android devices run the latest protective software.

‘Up-to-date versions of Google Android can be considered secure,’ Maik Morgenstern, CEO of antivirus rating organization AV-Test, told Digital Trends.

‘But especially in many older Android versions, more and more vulnerabilities are surfacing and many vendors don’t supply updates for their devices.

‘Currently, over 800 vulnerabilities are known.’


HOW YOUR PHONE COULD BE SPYING

Inaudible signals could be tracking your TV and web surfing habits more closely than ever before.

Hundreds of apps and websites are embedded with ultrasonic cross-device tracking technology that pick up inaudible ‘beacons’ emitted from advertisements.

This allows marketers to create personalised ads based on your interests, as they are able to determine your location and what activities you may be engaged in.

These signals can be picked up by a range of devices, including phones and TVs.

Signals are sent without the user’s permission or knowledge.

The creepy technology is explained in the firm's privacy policy, in which they say it is used for a 'variety of purposes', including analysing how phones are used

 

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