“Some Chinese brands nowadays offer phones with many features but make them very affordable, whereas other branded phones with the same features are priced higher. Many of these brands have tie-ups with companies whose apps are already installed on the phone,” says tech expert Soutrik Gupta.
At a glance, not all as it seems
As an example, tech expert Soutrik Gupta cites Glance, a built-in feature for the lock screens of many
Android phones. “This artificial intelligence platform will show specific content and pictures, based on your interests. But, you will realise soon that you didn’t choose your interests, yet it is showing you all the apt content. The memory clearing or speed-enhancing apps/features that are auto-enabled on a new phone are similar too. Often, document-opening apps like WPS Office are chosen as default. These are made the default apps because of company tie-ups. Whatever pre-installed apps you see, know that they probably have tie-ups with the developing company,” he adds.
Gupta further adds that these apps are configured/preset in such a manner that the user unknowingly shares information, or provides access to the photo gallery, phonebook, and current location to these apps. If a user doesn’t change the settings before logging in, the information is automatically shared.
It is not necessary to give location access
“In Android 11 and other newer versions, your information is safer, since they ask for permissions once you are signing in. So, if you are using an older Android version, enable the privacy settings, making your device as private as possible. Location access is necessary only for certain apps like shopping and ride hailing. Make sure that each app asks for your permission before it gets access to information on your phone,” adds Gupta.
Things to keep in mind
- For iOS phones, set your privacy settings to the highest. Also ensure that ‘request tracking’ is turned off, along with Analytics and Location Services.
- For Android phones and web services that are linked to Google accounts, the control panel for modifying data management is on https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
- The most important Meta settings for Facebook can be accessed through the privacy checker tool within the settings menu. For ‘Your Facebook Ad Preferences’, turn off options for relationship status, employment, position, and education.
- For pre-installed apps, check the individual settings too, and change it as per your needs.
- Stop using the default browser of your phone. They not only track the information, but they will also show you a lot of unwanted advertisements.
- Sometimes pre-installed apps aren’t downloaded from the app store but are pushed by the manufacturer. Keeping security in mind, it is always recommended that an app is updated or reinstalled from the app store.
- Uninstall every app on your phone that you don’t use.
-Inputs by tech experts Soutrik Gupta and Abhishek Shah
The first line of defence is you. Read through the app policies before you give consent. There are mentions of what data will be tracked. If you do not agree, check for alternatives on the play store, or decide if you really need the app. Ideally, company assets should not be used for personal work or to store personal work or to store personal identifiable information like Aadhaar or PAN
— Niranjan Reddy, cybersecurity expert