The Big Danger of the Mobile Web: Your Privacy
A recent report by comScore on mobile usage in Japan, the United States and Europe, shows the increased dependence of mobile users worldwide on their cell phones to access their online data. While there are some differences in the three markets, it is clear that most cell phone users, especially the younger population, use their mobile phones every day to access their email, post on the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and watch online media.
More teenagers today prefer to get a smartphone, including an unlimited texting plan, than a laptop computer. They want to be connected 24/7 and be able to communicate with their friends and update their Facebook profiles on the go.
With most of the content going mobile, privacy is becoming an increasing issue. Social media platforms have security and privacy concerns today, but the use of the mobile devices adds another layer of danger to the online data we share. And the fact that we are limited in the choice of service providers for our mobile devices also adds the issue of the reliability of their networks.
One recent example was the disclosure of AT&T’s iPad customers' email addresses. The specific information exposed in the breach included subscribers' email addresses, coupled with an associated ID used to authenticate the subscriber on AT&T's network. If you use an iPhone, you are probably limited to one cellular provider in your country, such as AT&T in the US (the Verizon deal for next year is not yet confirmed), and you can’t switch providers if you are not satisfied with their security measures, unless you are ready to give up your precious device.
Another issue is government snooping: the recent clash between BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and countries such as India, Saudi Arabia and the UAE requiring the installation of local servers to handle the messaging services and access to their intelligence agencies, is a clear example of the increased lack of privacy and security using a cellular service. I understand the need for security, but terrorist organizations are not stupid, and their members are not going to be caught for using a cell phone to send compromising messages. India is now asking all companies providing encrypted communications to install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users' data, probably affecting Google, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.Continued on the next page