2019-10-29: App and Social Media Privacy

Tags NSCAM2019

App & Social Media Privacy

This is the third of our general security advisories during National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  This week we're focused on privacy settings and permissions in apps and services that you have.


Review app permissions

When installing a new app - you should look at the permissions that the app requests.  Sometimes these permissions make sense.  For example, if you're installing a social media app that allows you to take pictures, it makes sense that the app will ask for permission to access your camera and microphone (to take pictures and video).

Sometimes an app asks for permissions that may not make sense.  It could be for the purposes of gathering your personal information (files, contacts, photos, location) for purposes of advertising (or other forms of tracking/profiling).

You should not only review the permissions on new apps that you are installing or considering - but you should review permissions on the apps that you already have installed.


Go to the Settings -> Privacy.  You'll be presented with the different permission types (location, camera, microphone, etc.).  You can also look through individual apps and review what permissions they have.  Look through these and disable any permissions you don't think an app should have


Depending on the version of Android you have - and the manufacturer - the steps to access permissions may differ.  There's a couple common ways of reviewing permissions on Android and at least one of these should apply.

  • Go to Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Advanced -> App Permissions
  • Go to Settings -> Privacy -> Permission manager


Social media privacy

In addition to the apps you install on your devices, you should look at the privacy settings on any social media site you use.

If you're using a site like Twitter or Instagram - for the most part people use these applications with an expectation that their posts are public (and not just shared with friends).  Facebook people are typically sharing content only with their friends (you should check your Facebook privacy settings though - there's a third-party article on this that is worth reviewing - It's Time to Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Again).

When posting on social media though (especially sites that are typically public like Twitter and Instagram) you should think about the following:

  • What if my boss or potential future employers see what I'm posting?  There's tons of stories of people getting fired (or not getting hired) for what they say and how they present themselves on social media (The Career Resource Center has more on this - see "Maintaining Your Online Image" on their site).
  • Am I disclosing too much about my location?  It may be boring (and I'm sure many who read this think I'm old and out of touch for even suggesting this) but it may be a good idea to wait to post picutres while you're out on vacation until you're back.  Don't leave a big sign up to potential burglars that you aren't home!


If you remember one thing from this...

If there's one thing to remember when using apps, and social media services - it's that many companies will do whatever they can to make money off your data and your usage.  This is especially true of free apps and services.  If you are getting an app or service for free - you're probably not the customer of those companies.  You (and your data) are the product they are selling to advertisers.


Article ID: 90759
Tue 10/29/19 11:16 AM
Tue 12/10/19 10:39 AM