Researchers said their smartphone app aims to block location-sensitive data from being collected and misused by third parties
Researchers have developed a system for smartphones that aims to prevent data about a user’s location from being leaked to those who may use it for malicious purposes.
The system, implemented as a smartphone application, helps to prevent location information such as local searches, GPS data and interactions with restaurant listings apps from falling into the hands of unauthorised third parties, said Linke Guo, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Binghamton University, who led the research.
Location data leaks
“When we release personal information to the Internet, it is out of our control, and can be easily searched and used for malicious purposes,” he said. “We are trying to provide a more efficient and feasible solution to make sure that kind of information is secure.”
Guo, along with co-authors Ming Li from the University of Nevada, Reno and Yuguang Fang of the University of Florida presented the research at the IEEE Globecom Conference last month in a paper titled “Privacy-preserving Verifiable Proximity Test for Location-based Services”. Last week Binghamton University said the research had won the conference’s “best paper” award.
The researchers said they are currently looking into the possibility of making their privacy-protection app available to the public.
Concerns over the confidentiality of smartphone data have led to the creation of mobile devices specifically aimed at protecting users’ data, including Silent Circle’s Blackphone and BlackBerry’s Leap.
The Blackphone 2, introduced in September, automatically encrypts all calls and messages sent using the device, and also features a built-in central security hub that allows complete and individualised control over all the device’s security options.
So-called “BlackBerry PGP” devices, BlackBerry handsets customised with PGP encryption to protect emails, are also sold by third parties who operate their own BES servers.
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