An accelerometer can tell how fast you're moving, a magnetometer can detect your orientation in relation to true north, and a barometer can measure the air pressure in your surrounding environment. You phone also freely offers up a slew of non-sensory data such as your device's IP address, timezone and network status whether you're connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile network.
All of this data can be accessed by any app you download without the type of permissions required to access your contact lists, photos or GPS.
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Combined with publicly available information, such as weather reports, airport specification databases and transport timetables, this data is enough to accurately pinpoint your location - regardless of whether you're walking or travelling by plane, train or automobile. Previous attempts to track users with non-critical data have seen only marginal success. They have been hindered by either excessive power consumption - meaning the attacks are easy to detect - or they have required some advanced knowledge of either the mobile phone owner's initial location or potential routes.
This newly discovered method requires none of these. First, for this particular privacy attack to work, the mobile phone owner must install an app to gather the information. But in a true threat scenario, the app could be disguised as anything. The lines of code needed for the attack could be buried in something as innocuous seeming as a torch app for some reason, people keep downloading these apps, even though they almost always contain malware.
The app created by the researchers to test their attack was aptly named "PinMe".
To track a user, you first need to determine what kind of activity they're performing. It's easy enough to tell if a person is walking versus riding in a car, speed being the discriminant factor, but also, when you're walking you tend to move in one direction, while your phone is held in a variety of different positions.
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In a car, you make sudden stops when you break and specific types of turns - around 90 degrees - that can be detected using your phone's magnetometer. People who travel by plane will rapidly change time zones; the air pressure on a plane also changes erratically, which can be detected by a mobile phone's barometer.
When you ride a train, you tend to accelerate in a direction that doesn't significantly change. In other words, determining your mode of travel is relatively simple. The fact that your mobile phone offers up your time zone as well as the last IP address you were connected to really narrows things down - geolocating IP addresses is very easy to do and can at least reveal the last city you were in - but to determine your exact location, with GPS-like precision, a wealth of publicly-available data is needed.
To estimate your elevation - that is, how far you are above sea level - PinMe gathers air pressure data provided freely by the Weather Channel and compares it to the reading on your mobile phone's barometer. Google Maps and open-source data offered by US Geological Survey Maps also provide comprehensive data regarding changes in elevation across the Earth's surface.
And we're talking about minor differences in elevation from one street corner to the next. Upon detecting a user's activity flying, walking and so on the PinMe app uses one of four algorithms to begin estimating a user's location, narrowing down the possibilities until its error rate drops to zero, according to the peer-reviewed research. Let's say the app decides you're travelling by car. It knows your elevation, it knows your timezone, and if you haven't left the city you're in since you last connected to Wi-Fi, you're pretty much borked.
With access to publicly available maps and weather reports, and a phone's barometer and magnetometer which provides a heading , it's only a matter of turns. When PinMe detected one of the researchers driving in Philadelphia during a test-run, for example, the researcher only had to make 12 turns before the app knew exactly where they were in the city. With each turn, the number of possible locations of the vehicles dwindles. The researchers offer suggestions for a variety of countermeasures that could prevent this type of tracking.
Of course, it wouldn't hurt if apps requested permission before accessing sensory information that we now know to be sensitive.
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One method is decreasing the sampling rate used by those sensors, when they aren't in use for activities such as jogging, below what's required for a malicious app to fly under the radar high-sampling rates can trigger anti-malware detection. Another suggestion is to include a physical switch, allowing users to deactivate those sensors whenever they wish. Of course, Apple, which is nauseatingly obsessed with aesthetics, would likely never add such a feature. The researchers further suggest the location technique used by PinMe may be better for autonomous cars than GPS, which can be spoofed, causing wrecks.
The real problem is that users are effectively helpless against this kind of attack. In fact, the kind of target the researcher's had in mind when they developed their technique was a user who is very cautious about which apps have permission to access sensitive data - the kind of person who switches off their GPS when travelling so details about their routine can't be scooped up by anyone who might be watching.
Again, your phone doesn't consider air pressure readings, or which direction you're facing relative to the north pole, to be all that sensitive. We are excited to announce that Pumpic has been acquired by WebWatcher. Please Click Here to try WebWatcher for free.
Cyberbullying, online predator attacks, and sexting are Internet dangers children face world-widely each day.
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In fact, Australia is the third most searching country on the cyberbullying topic. More often than not parents know too little about what actually is going on with their kids online and even less about how to secure them. Sometimes such ignorance costs children lives. The Internet is the environment our kids live in these days.
At struggle with online bullying and child abuse, the government of Australia works together with networks known for cyberbullying. Thus, kids and their parents can ask the government to remove humiliating content by making a formal complaint. The weakest point of the program is that most children refuse to inform parents about cyberbullying. They are simply afraid of abusers so much that will never tell anyone about it. Statistically, only 1 in 3 kids inform adults about being bellied online.
Thankfully, parents can take the issue into their own hands by means of mobile phone monitoring software.
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Available in Australia, Pumpic parental mobile monitoring app allows tracking online activities and text communication remotely. It lets parents avert Internet dangers in the making and secure child safety. Right after installing Pumpic, all the data from the target device will be sent to your Control Panel. It can be accessed from any browser and any gadget, including PCs, mobile phones and tablets. In Control Panel, you can not only view the information, but also set restrictions, block, and limit some of activities.
Visit our Store , check out available subscription plans and choose the one that meets your expectations and monitoring preferences. After you submit a payment, you will receive an email with setup instructions.
Pumpic app setup process will take you no longer than 5 minutes. Follow the guidelines in the email to complete the setup. Note that physical access to the Android target device is required before installation. To see the data from the target device, access your Control Panel via cp. In the Control Panel, you can view logs, media files, location history, set restrictions, manage your devices and subscriptions. His girlfriend told me some older boys bullied him at school and shared threatful comments under his posts on Instagram.
I decided to get some reliable iPhone monitoring software and came across Pumpic.
The app helped me handle the situation with those bullies and keeps helping me protect my boy on the Internet here and after. The app has so many useful features that I can easily keep an eye on my kids online and anywhere they go. Calls, text messages, locations, geo-fences, all Internet activities.
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Everything I need to protect my family is in one good app. To prevent my girls 12 and 14 from wasting time on the Internet I've installed Pumpic on their smartphones. This application is a helping hand for parents. I can see websites they visit, block inappropriate content and prevent my daughters from contacting strangers. After reading many reviews, forums, and taking advice of other moms Pumpic turned out to be one of the most reliable kid tracker apps in Australia.