I’m a hacking expert. These are the mainstream apps I would NEVER use because of privacy risks
Tom Gaffney is a cybersecurity specialist with F-Secure
Many of the world’s most popular apps have dubious terms of service, and exploit private data to make money, according to a cybersecurity expert.
Tom Gaffney, Cybersecurity expert at F-Secure tells DailyMail.com that there are several popular apps he would never use due to fears over what they do with private data.
He says that by allowing data to be monitored by ‘big tech’ companies, they can decide what we see online, and we become ‘defined by what computer algorithms decide for us.’
Digital voice assistants such as Alexa are serious privacy risks, Gaffney says.
The devices listen for ‘wake words’ before operating but are listening to them all the time – and take snippets of your voice and process them in data centers far from your home.
Gaffney says, ‘I don’t use them at all, but for those that do, I would not place them in the bathroom or bedroom. Though they wake on trigger words, they listen for a few seconds afterward.
‘The data going to a central cloud is by design, in reality the processing could be done far more securely on the device, in the home.’
Amazon’s digital assistant has a dedicated app that powers all of the company’s devices. Gaffney says, ‘I don’t use them at all, but for those that do, I would not place them in the bathroom or bedroom’
Uber has a history of privacy concerns, says Gaffney.
As well as a large-scale data breach, the company also faced controversy over a ‘God View’ which allowed employees to see the whereabouts of app users.
Gaffney says, ‘Their previous head of security was charged for withholding a past data breach in 2016 and there have been leaks of driver data in 2022 and more recently this year.
Gaffney says that the Meta-owned WhatsApp’s ‘end to end’ encryption – where content is encrypted so that only the users communicating can see the messages – is a positive step, but he will no longer use WhatsApp as it shares data with Facebook.
He says, ‘WhatsApp since 2020, provides the same user data and combines it with Facebook as they share the same ownership. I came off WhatsApp when they changed their terms.’
Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan confessed in 2020 that he ‘really messed up the app’s security’ when hackers were able to crash meetings due to security flaws.
The app does not have the best encryption – it is actually below the industry standard.
This vulnerability could easily allow cybercriminals to intercept and access your data.
What do the companies say?
DailyMail.com reached out to the companies for comment.
An Uber Spokesperson said: ‘Over 118 million active users trust Uber with their data and privacy. Uber has robust safeguards in place to prevent loss or unauthorized use of personal data.’
A Meta spokesperson said: ‘Protecting the privacy and security of people’s data is fundamental to how our business works.
‘That’s why we’ve invested heavily in features like Privacy Check-up and Privacy Basics to provide transparency and controls for people to both understand and manage their privacy preferences.’
An Amazon spokesperson said, “We ensure that customers’ data is protected at all times. This includes customers’ Alexa voice recordings which are stored securely in the Amazon cloud.”