The ability to do this is called triangulation. One way the operator can do this is to monitor the signal strength that different towers observe from a particular mobile phone, and then calculate where that phone must be located in order to account for these observations.
Very often, it is accurate to about the level of a local area, but in urban areas where mobile traffic and density of antenna towers is sufficiently high, it may achieve a precision down to 50 meters. Normally only the mobile operator itself can perform this kind of tracking, a government could force the operator to turn over location data about a user in real-time or as a matter of historical record. Another related kind of government request is called a tower dump ; in this case, a government asks a mobile operator for a list of all of the mobile devices that were present in a certain area at a certain time.
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This could be used to investigate a crime, or to find out who was present at a particular protest. Reportedly, the Ukrainian government used a tower dump for this purpose in , to make a list of all of the people whose mobile phones were present at an anti-government protest. Preventative Measures. The best way not to get detected? In a world where practically every machine connects to the internet, this is not easy. However, for ultra-sensitive files and tasks — like storing Bitcoins or working with confidential blueprints — the inconvenience of working entirely offline can be justified, despite all the trouble.
For these situations, the highly cautious rely on Faraday cages or bags. These are essentially metal-lined phone cases that block all radio frequencies. No signal can go in or out. These are easily available on Amazon for relatively cheap. The IMSI catcher needs to be taken to a particular location in order to find or monitor devices at that location.
Currently there is no reliable defence against all IMSI catchers. Some apps, e. SnoopSnitch for rooted Android, claim to detect their presence, but this detection is imperfect. These measures can provide some protection against certain kinds of IMSI catchers.
Modern smartphones have other radio transmitters in addition to the mobile network interface, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. These signals are transmitted with less power than a mobile signal and can normally be received only within a short range such as within the same room or the same building , although sometimes using a sophisticated antenna allows these signals to be detected from unexpectedly long distances; in a demonstration , an expert hacker in Venezuela received a Wi-Fi signal at a distance of km, under rural conditions with little radio interference.
Both of these kinds of wireless signals include a unique serial number for the device, called a MAC address, which can be seen by anybody who can receive the signal. The device manufacturer chooses this address at the time the device is created, and it cannot be changed using the software that comes with current smartphones. Using this, the MAC address can be observed in wireless signals even if a device is not actively connected to a particular wireless network, or even if it is not actively transmitting data. Whenever Wi-Fi is turned on, the smartphone will transmit occasional signals that include the MAC address and thus let others nearby recognize that — that particular device is present.
This has been used for commercial tracking applications, for instance, letting shopkeepers determine statistics about how often particular customers visit and how long they spend in the shop. In comparison to cell-tower monitoring, these forms of tracking are not necessarily as useful for government surveillance. However, these forms of tracking can be a highly accurate way to tell when a person enters and leaves a building. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on a smartphone can prevent this type of tracking, although this can be inconvenient for users who want to use these technologies frequently.
If you are not sure what the public network at a business is called, ask an employee before connecting. And check to make sure your computer or smartphone is not set up to automatically connect to unknown Wi-Fi networks — or set it to ask you before connecting. Site names include banskfindia. It is always better to type the URL in yourself versus clicking on a link you receive in a message.
There are many applications that can do this. VPN services charge a fee for their use, with pay packages ranging from day passes to year-round protection. This feature randomly changes the MAC address reported by the phone, making tracking a lot harder, if not impossible. On these devices, with the right software and configuration, it would be possible to choose a new and different MAC address every day. On iOS this is not possible. Deactivate AirDrop: AirDrop is a wireless file sharing protocol that allows iPhone users a simple way to share photos and other files.
That makes it simple for those other iOS devices to request permission to send files. While convenient, AirDrop is a protocol that has been hacked in the past. Modern smartphones provide ways for the phone to determine its own location, often using GPS and sometimes using other services like IP location and cell tower location.
Apps can ask the phone for this location information and use it to provide services that are based on location, such as maps, cab and food delivery apps that show you your position on the map. Some of these apps will then transmit your location over the network to a service provider, which, in turn, provides a way for other people to track you. The app developers might not have been motivated by the desire to track users, but they might still end up with the ability to do that, and they might end up revealing location information about their users to governments or hackers.
By measuring the recurrence of your mobile phone pings passing cell towers, advertisers can conclude if you are a daily commuter. If the pings occur contiguously, it means that you are moving at a great rate of speed, with infrequent interruptions — also known as a train. Using this data they can show you advertisements for items that daily commuters would be interested in buying, like headphones, travel bags, etc. Search for a product on your phone and then physically walk into a store. Location tracking is not only about finding where someone is right now. Scrutinize app permissions while installing apps.
A good privacy practice is to restrict all the apps with a bare minimum access to the personal information. The more permissions requested, the great potential of data sent insecurely to adversaries. Stop location tracking on iOS:. Tap on apps you want to adjust. Stop location tracking on Android:. These instructions are for recent Android phones; Google provides more instructions here.
Any app on Android that has your permission to track your location can receive the data even when you are not using it. Every internet search contains keywords, and the keywords you just entered into Google or Safari like search engines are fought over by advertisers. Each advertiser who offers a product related to your keywords wants its ad to be seen and clicked. Then, like cartoon toys scrambling to get back in the right order before their owner throws on the light, the ads finalize their positions before your customized results page loads on your screen.
Generally, your first four search results — what you see before having to scroll down — are all paid advertisements. For those over 35, that percentage grows proportionally higher.
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To maximize this percentage, Google is always testing to find ad visuals that blend in best with organic results. Once you click on an ad, your information passes through to search engine marketers, where it is forever stored in an AdWords account, never to be erased.
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Here is a complete checklist of everything Google knows about you — thereby all the ways you are tracked — as of December This profile contains:. In , we will verge on understanding the ultimate marketing technology: Cross-Device attribution. Using this technology, ads will follow individuals seamlessly — not only across channels e. Depending on your brand loyalty, for example, your TV will emit a hyper-frequency during certain commercials. Undetectable by your obsolete human ear, this signal can only be picked up by a nearby cell phone.
Developers of various applications and services, a vast majority of them free, invest a lot of time and effort into developing, running, and maintaining them. So, how are the people who create and maintain these apps making money?
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The answer is simple: in-app advertising and user-tracking data collection. To display ads inside an app, you need to know the different types of audiences who use your app and be able to distinguish between them by collecting information about them when they use your app, know the businesses who are interested in advertising their services to the different user demographics, and be able to match the right ads with the right audiences.
While this is certainly possible, it is especially difficult to manage for small-time app developers who will have to do this while also staying on top of maintaining their apps, developing new features, and various other developer-related tasks. To make this easier, developers use third-party trackers who know other businesses interested in mobile advertising and mediate between them and the app developers who want to monetize their apps through ads.
Developers embed pieces of software developed by these services inside their apps which allows them to collect information about the users and use it to display targeted advertisements. Third-party trackers inherit the set of application permissions requested by the host app, allowing them access to a wealth of valuable user data, often beyond what they need to provide the expected service.
The idea of data collection for in-app advertising is a controversial one. App creators need to make money.
A few examples of things that a government might try to figure out from data analysis: determining whether people know each other; detecting when one person uses multiple phones or switches phones; detecting when groups of people are traveling together or regularly meeting one another; detecting when groups of people use their phones in unusual or suspicious ways.
It is not yet available for iOS. Lumen helps users identify these third-party services in their apps by monitoring network activities of the apps that are running on your phone. It also tells you what kind of data is collected by them and organization is collecting the data. Lumen brings the much-needed transparency into the equation and having this information is half the battle, but users need to have some sort of control over this behaviour.
Lumen also gives them the option to block those flows. This feature gives the users granular control over the network communications of their apps and helps them prevent unwanted tracking by third-party services. Blokada is another such tool for Android devices that efficiently blocks ads and trackers.
It is also free and an open source project. Concerned about your Google data? You better be! Downgrade Attack: This is a form of cryptographic attack on an electronic system or communications protocol that makes it abandon a high-quality mode of encrypted connection in favour of an older, lower-quality mode of encrypted connection that is typically provided for backward compatibility with older systems.
An example of such a flaw is SS7 hack. An SS7 attack is an exploit that takes advantage of a weakness in the design of SS7 Signalling System 7 to enable data theft, eavesdropping, text interception and location tracking. The mobile operators themselves have the ability to intercept and record all of the data about visited websites, who called or sent SMS to whom, when, and what they said.
They turn ril. Your Internet provider offers up DNS as part of your service, but your provider could also log your DNS traffic — in essence, recording your entire browsing history. This information might be available to local or foreign governments through official or informal arrangements. Also, IMSI catchers described above can be used by someone physically nearby you to intercept communication packets. DRT B. Look no further than DRT.
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When operational, a Stingray is able to mimic a cell tower from various carriers and subsequently force all phones in a meter radius to connect to it. From there, it can extract all sorts of data, jam multitudes of devices and prevent them from being used, intercept communications, and track specific targets. Notably, the FBI has seemingly been extremely concerned with keeping the Stingray and its capabilities a secret. Weighing in at 20 pounds, the device was reportedly designed for fixed wing aircraft missions.
The Typhoon is operational up to a range of 30 km in rural areas and 5 km in urban areas. Cellular phones in the United States. Image Source: The Miller Group.
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