Technology drives the modern world. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that without all the tremendous technological innovations we enjoy daily, our lives would be less comfortable. And yet, technology comes with its own set of risks and security challenges.
One such popular technology is geolocation. You might have heard of this before but never given it much thought. You might want to learn how your mobile and internet devices might be sharing your location with others – it’s a very interesting technology.
How Does Geolocation Work?
Geolocation is a technology based on GPS or Global Positioning Systems. This technology allows the near exact location of any device to be displayed and tracked. This allows for any number of functions to be performed. All the major services that many people use today like cab rides from Uber and food delivery are based on geolocation. It is also at the core all kinds of marketing services performed by major companies including Google and Microsoft.
The fundamental premise behind geolocation is a satellite relay. The device with the internet connection or even SIM card will relay its location to the satellite. The satellite will then relay the information to a central server. This allows the company and any party with access to their information access to your actual location.
Why Is It Important to Know How Your Location is Tracked and Shared?
On the face of it, Geolocation is a very useful technology. It is fundamental to many of the essential services we enjoy today. Aside from commercial ones, it can also be used to ensure the safety of not just individuals but also devices. One of the most important techniques for locating lost devices is through the use of geolocation services.
Despite all of these benefits, there are a number of concerns with geolocation. This technology can be used to track people without their consent. Despite the fact that there is some degree of control users have on their location tracking, a lot of it is beyond them. Most people think that if you turn off the geolocation option on your device, you will not be tracked. This is not true!
The truth is that even when you shut off that service, you are still tracked in many ways. One of the most apparent is your SIM card. This can be used to track your location based on the closest connection relay tower. This essentially allows your carrier to know roughly where you are.
Aside from that, there are other ways in which geolocation may be used. On Google phones, it is possible to be tracked even without a SIM being present or those services being activated. On many kinds of operating systems, there can be ways to track them without using the standard geolocation protocol.
The right to privacy is fundamental to exercising your choices and with non-consent based geolocation, these are violated. So, it is important for you to know how the services you use may be sharing your personal information with other parties.
How Do Companies Use Geolocation for Their Profit?
Geolocation provides a lot of benefits to companies like Google. It is not the only company which benefits from geolocation. Almost every other major internet company stands to benefit from geolocation. Third parties and advertisers are always looking for data on user location and related activities. This provides them the perfect resource to pitch location-based services and offers to users. This is usually done by using the profiled location history of the user.
Based on the places they visit and the online activities they register, the advertisers can approximate what kind of products or services the clients want. This enables them to pitch all kinds of advertisements to you. Companies want to pitch their products to as many customers as possible and your location history is a prime source for that. But companies are not the only problem to consider when you use any kind of location-based services. There are other agents at play whom you make not know of until they have compromised you.
How Can Hackers and Social Engineers Use Your Location History?
While your location history is mostly reserved exclusively for you to know, there are ways of accessing it. Some people like being informed of various deals and events going on around them. It helps them get some great products and services. However, not everyone is keen on having themselves tracked wherever they go. And malicious actors are a very important cause for that.
Location tracking can open you up to a number of security threats. These can not only impact you but also your family and friends. Unethical social engineers and other malicious agents use location as a prime source to create the profile of a target. If you use Google’s location services or have non-private location photos on Facebook and Instagram, then you are making yourself vulnerable.