Most people have at least one game on their smartphone. That could be Candy Crush, Pool 3D, Chess, or League of Legends. Because the primary goal of these games is to provide entertainment, no one considers them a security risk.
However, there are some games in the Play Store and the App Store that have the potential to spy on you and record your habits. That’s true about all devices, including ones given to children, even when you’re not playing the games.
Are apps listening to what you’re saying?
Everyone is familiar with social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok spying on their users. It’s easy to notice this fact when you’re talking to somebody about cat food and immediately get an advertisement about it. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore.
But now, even game companies are using the same type of software to collect data. This enforces the statement that when you’re getting something for free in today’s world, you’re the product being sold. Alphonso is a startup company that created software to record snippets from TV shows, movies, and ads and sells it to marketers. As soon as you download one of their apps, they can use the microphone on your phone to determine what you’re watching and target you better.
What’s even weirder is that the games don’t even need to be turned on for this to happen. On top of that, the same thing happens even if your phone is in your pocket. There’s no escaping it. The company stated that they don’t record human speech, and the users can opt-out at any time from the feature. Additionally, they say they comply with all of the guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission.
How do they work?
In the case of Alphonso, they’ve got an algorithm integrated with Shazam, an app you use when you don’t know what song’s playing on the radio or in the club. Apps made from Alphonso listen for snippets from TV shows and ad breaks, and then they send them to Shazam, which recognizes what you’re watching, identifies who you are, and sells it to them.
Whenever you’re watching TV, you impulsively grab your phone when the ad breaks start. The apps pay attention to everything broadcasted through your TV and keep tabs on whether you will go to a car dealership, cosmetics store, or pharmacy. The problem is that no one likes to be spied on, yet people buy an Alexa or a Google Home device that actively listens to everything being said in the living room.
What can you do?
There’s no running away from apps that want to spy on you. Even Flashlight apps contained malware. Now, that feature has been integrated into phones. With the current state of the tech world, the only thing left to do is to fight fire with fire. Installing a VPN is the only weapon you need. Here’s why.
Modern apps don’t need your name, phone number, or personal details to target you with ads. Instead, the only thing they need is an IP address. Well, virtual private networks hide your real IP address and show a fake one to your internet service provider and the apps you use. Not only that, but some VPNs have built-in blockers that don’t save any trackers on your device.
Also, whenever you see a notification that an application is requesting permission to use your microphone, it will always spy on you. That should be in your mind whenever you agree to such terms.
The app will know whether you’re watching the new blockbuster movie or rewatching an old comforting show. Not only that, but they will see what you’re watching when you’re out with your friends and all the things you like to talk about.
How can you keep your kids safe?
It’s pretty common for kids to have smartphones now, and they’ve all got games on their phones too. When it’s an adult’s data, it’s one thing, but children don’t know anything about security and privacy, raising the question of how to keep them safe.
The only thing you can do in this situation is to install a VPN on their devices and teach them about internet security. You don’t need to scare them with any information. However, there have been instances of targeted attacks aimed explicitly at children.
Over the past couple of years, thousands of parents have reported that the Talking Tom and Talking Angela apps had asked their kids about personal information. This includes questions like where they go to school, their names and surnames, whether they have siblings or not, and taking a picture of their faces. Even though the publishers have negated all remarks, there were a few investigations.
In this case, you need to pay careful watch of what they’re doing and see if any privacy concerns need to be addressed. Just to be safe, it would be wise to enable a kill switch on their VPN to ensure that none of their information leaks online whenever the connection drops. Keeping them private and teaching them about the risks is the only way to move forward.