While smart mobile devices afford countless modern conveniences and allow for constant connection, some are beginning to see the darker side of the mobile revolution, according to Forbes. Internet users have long been familiar with the phenomenon of companies tracking browsing history to create targeted advertisements, but eyebrows are being raised at the new trend of customer location tracking to optimize retailers' marketing efforts.
Tech security firm AVG is offering an out for smartphone users who prefer to draw the line when companies begin tracking their movements. The app is currently the only option for customers who share these IT security concerns and want to keep their locations private. This route is getting more popular as consumers become more aware of the implications surrounding these new practices that utilize MAC addresses to take note of users' whereabouts.
"Consumers are better off shutting out this kind of tracking," Jim Brock, vice president of privacy products at AVG, told the news source. "Because MAC addresses also are routinely collected in apps, your location history can potentially be matched with other information about you, including your identity."
Brock hopes that companies start to adopt more transparent policies regarding mobile location tracking in the future and allow users to opt out for themselves.
E-commerce transactions are at risk
Because people spend so much time on their mobile devices, the technology is not only a goldmine for companies looking to get more consumer data but also for hackers and scam artists who take advantage of relaxed online security measures. According to a recent report from the Jacksonville Business Journal, smartphone shoppers should be especially careful this holiday season, because mobile transactions are rarely as secure as those on their native platforms.
The news source cited a study from the ThreatMatrix Global Intelligence Trust Network that revealed the increasing popularity of mobile shopping. Nearly one out of every four online transactions that occurred between Black Friday and Cyber Monday were done on mobile devices. Still, few buyers realize that there are a number of factors that make shopping on a phone different from a laptop.
The main reason why mobile shoppers and online retailers with mobile options are at risk is because the platform does not provide the same level of quality information necessary to ensure a secure transaction. This makes online scams much easier for cybercriminals who can pose as mobile users from home. Businesses need to make sure to increase mobile security for the sake of their customers and themselves.