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Is Someone Following You?

Posted October 28, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Apps smartphone

Interested in knowing someone’s location at all times but less interested in doing the actual legwork required in following them? That information can be yours without setting foot outside of your home, all for the sum of $1,000, according to researchers from the University of Washington.

The same technology that companies use to direct their marketing efforts to consumers, oftentimes tailoring those ads based on information gleaned from a consumer’s browsing history can, in the wrong hands, also be used to determine the consumer's whereabouts.

"Anyone, from a foreign intelligence agent to a jealous spouse, can pretty easily sign up with a large internet advertising company and on a fairly modest budget use these ecosystems to track another individual's behavior," said lead author Paul Vines, a recent doctoral graduate in the UW's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

Purchasing an ad lets the buyer deliver location-based ads to the target's phone. Additionally, the buyer may also be able to view what apps were used by the target, which could reflect private details about the target's life, including dating habits, health, religion, political affiliation, etc.

Tracking and monitoring can potentially be achieved once the user learns a target's mobile advertising ID (MAID). The MAID is a unique identifier that makes it possible for marketers to tailor advertisements to the user based on their interests. The MAID can also be accessed by eavesdropping on an unsecured wireless network or by gaining access to a user's WiFi router.

In their study, researchers showed that advertising service customers can purchase a number of hyperlocal ads, which can be served exclusively to that phone when its owner opens an app in a specific location. By setting up a grid of these location-based ads, the buyer can locate the target's moves if the app is opened and the target stays in the location long enough for an ad to be served (for roughly four minutes the team determined). Researchers were able to pinpoint the target's location within nearly 8 meters.

Those using the information for intentions other than marketing could potentially apply the technology to determine if certain targets are away from their homes so that they can gain access in their absence. Likewise, the technology can be used by the sophisticated stalker, wanting to know where his or her object of affection is each moment of the day or what apps they are using by simply targeting their device.

Seems that this justifies an overwhelming fear that all of our jobs are in danger of being automated…even for those in the business of stalking.

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#1

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/28/2017 6:40 PM

"That information can be yours without setting foot outside of your home, all for the sum of $1,000, according to researchers from the University of Washington."

I only wish all the means available to stalkers cost them $1000 !

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#2

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/28/2017 9:34 PM
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#3

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/28/2017 11:18 PM

An easy way to defeat this is by saying, " no ", when the site or application says that it wants to know your location.

Don't be misled by the site telling you that your experience will be enhanced.

If all users said " no " then the advertisers would be forced to enhance everyone's viewing experience.

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#4

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/29/2017 1:50 PM

After I clicked “do not track “ in the settings menu, the ads became random rather than targeted. This could be a simple solution.

I then installed an Adblock, which stops most ads. I’ve always found ads to be an annoying distraction, on some sites using more data than the actual content.

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#5

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/30/2017 7:47 AM

I turn off location on my phone. Yes I know the government can still get it but, at least I don't go broadcasting it to any app or advertiser willy-nilly. It must be effective because, Google keeps prodding me mercilessly to turn my location services back on. Which I won't.

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#6

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/30/2017 10:06 AM

Check out the film Minority Report if you want to see the new advertising normal early. There is a scene where the Tom Cruise character is walking through a shopping mall that is quite disturbing.

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#7

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/30/2017 7:07 PM

Not a problem since I don't access the 'Net with my phlip-fone. Of course, if you know my cell phone number, you can localize my phone to a general area based upon tower utilization, etc.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/31/2017 10:44 AM

In respect to Halloween, no someone is not following you, but something is!

Something evil this way waxes.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/31/2017 11:28 AM

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes"

The Bard.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/31/2017 11:55 AM

So this bard, this fellow was a poetic diabetic?

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#11

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/31/2017 1:57 PM

If someone is following me, they can die of boredom.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Is Someone Following You?

10/31/2017 2:19 PM

ROFLMAO, me too, I am afraid. Very afraid.

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