Culture, Reviews, Society

How I Realized I Wasn’t Safe (And What I Did to Protect Myself)

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about something that I think is really important, especially for people (like me) who download applications on their phones.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m not really an ‘article’ blogger and I hope that this post doesn’t come across in that way. I discovered something on my phone last week that really bothered me and I feel that it’s too important not to share.

Is Your Smartphone Safe

I went to download “Shopkick” on my android phone last week. In case you’ve never heard of it, Shopkick is a free application that allows you to “check in” to various places that you already go- like Old Navy and American Eagle. Every time you walk into the store (yes, it really is that simple), you are rewarded with “kicks” (points). They add up and can be redeemed for gift cards to places like Target and Starbucks.

I love shopping at Target. I like coffee. I love taking C to the mall to play (where most of the check-ins are offered). I also happen to love being rewarded for things that I already do. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy gift cards for Starbucks?! So I figured…why not? Now I’ve downloaded dozens of applications on my smart phone and have never thought to really pay attention to what I’m “accepting” when I add a seemingly harmless app to my device. After last week, though, I will never download something without first looking at that agreement. And neither should you. Here’s why…

I took a look at some of the applications that I had installed on my phone and a few of the ‘top rated’ apps and was shocked at what I found. When you agree to download things, like Shopkick, on your device you’re granting them access to some very private details in your life. Here’s what you’re allowing some of these programs to do (more specifically, this is what Shopkick requires you to permit):

-Read your text and picture messages.

-Modify and delete items that you store on your phone.

-Access your GPS to find you.

-Make phone calls, to any number, without your permission and without you even knowing about it.

-Record audio, video, and take pictures without your consent or knowledge.

-Access your contacts.

-Access your phone calls (who you’re talking to and for how long).

-Create Bluetooth connections without your knowledge.

-See what email, social network, bank, and any other accounts you access from your phone.

Now I’m not saying that these applications will ever actually take advantage of the things you’re granting them permission for but, in my opinion, it’s just not worth the risk. Unless they’re willing to cut back on their download requirements, they won’t be used by me.

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