5 steps for a safe ROUTE when using location-based apps

2 May 2012

While useful, geolocation also poses a security risk, but non-profit global information security association ISACA has five simple steps to follow for safety.

A survey conducted by ISACA in the US revealed that, while 58pc of consumers with smart devices are using location-based applications, many are concerned that strangers could learn too much about their activities and that third parties could use their personal information for marketing purposes.

However, even though users expressed these concerns, 43pc admitted they do not read the privacy agreements on these apps before they download them. Furthermore, 25pc those who do read these agreements found them to be unclear about how location information would be used.

When combined with other personal information, such as gender, race, occupation or financial history, geolocation data can put an individual or an enterprise at risk. “Geolocation is becoming a real source of commercial and financial benefit for organisations, but, unfortunately, as with any technology that becomes popular, it is also becoming more interesting for hackers, scammers and spammers,” warns ISACA director Marc Vael.

Stay informed

“Like any other kind of information-sharing, location-based apps can be tremendously convenient but also risky,” says Marios Damianides, past international president of ISACA. “People should educate themselves so they can understand how their data is being used or know how to disable this feature.”

ISACA recommends a five-step ROUTE to stay informed when using location-based apps:

  1. Read mobile app agreements to see what information you are sharing.
  2. Only enable geolocation when the benefits outweigh the risk.
  3. Understand that others can track your current and past locations.
  4. Think before posting tagged photos to social media sites.
  5. Embrace the technology, and educate yourself and others.

You can read more about the risks associated with geolocation in the ISACA white paper, Geolocation: Risk, Issues and Strategies.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.