Summit 7 Team Blogs

BIG data, BIG brother, BIG security, BIG reality check?

Now there’s a title that is bound to breed controversy, or maybe just a few words put together to catch the attention of some secret agent out to do their daily job of filtering information about us.  I'm a bit of a technology geek, and am intrigued by this whole idea of security and hacking (ethically, that is.)  It's that type of stuff that causes me to wonder if I really know what any of the big companies are doing with all that access to my stuff.

Just think about it, if you have Gmail, you probably use Hangouts, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Search, Google Drive, Google Maps, and well it’s not just a rant on Google.  For Microsoft, you have the Xbox, Bing, MSN, Skype, Hotmail (Outlook), MS Office and so much more.  Now let’s take that to our mobile devices where we are now connected everywhere, all the time and sharing more and more information that is supposed to be ours.  But is it really our information?

A few weeks ago there was a lot of chatter about people questioning the NSA for their tracking and probing into phone calls, surveillance and "other stuff" of US Citizens.  I say "other stuff" because the question lingers, do we really know what all they have access to these days?  Matter of fact, do we even know what all we are really giving them or anyone access to?  The answer to that may be yes and no, but for now let’s address the factor that does matter… our permission.

Most of us may consider ourselves relatively smart or conscious about what accounts we open, what e-mail addresses we use for regular stuff, clearing our browser's history/cache, ensuring our passwords change every 90 days and so on.  However, even in all of our precautions, are we still ignorantly or knowledgeably giving away permission for whomever to do whatever they want?

That may be horrifying to consider, but take a look at the following two screenshots taken from the Google Keep Mobile App (and those are not photoshopped).


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The language “This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation” is relatively strong and hints at their intentions, whether harmless or otherwise.  It’s actually quite interesting because I've witnessed that occurring and without my permission as they so adamantly stated.

So maybe we don't know or understand everything, but what I do know is I have the ability to not download every app just because I thought it looked nice.  I started reading through the privacy policy and permissions of the apps I had, and well... let’s just say my phone got a lot cleaner.

Think I'm overreacting?

Share your thoughts on the invasion of privacy aspects in the comments below. What app permissions are you allowing with/without your knowledge?