Hackers Can Now Track Your Smartphone’s Location through Power Usage

21 August 2015

Edinburgh: Today smartphones have become so predominant that it can be found everywhere. With innumerable number of smartphones across the globe, there are several ways through which one can track every move of yours. Recently the security researchers of Stanford University have developed a new technology called PowerSpy using which the spies can track your device’s location just by using the device’s battery usage even when you have disabled the GPS access.

The battery usage data doesn’t need users’ permission to be shared; it is freely available for all the installed and downloaded applications. So this data can be used by the attackers to track you with the accuracy of up to 90%. All that a spy needs to do is to use any application on your device and monitor the battery usage data to track your smartphone’s location.

Tracked location will be 90% accurate

  • The new invention has given a powerful tool for the spies to monitor your location. The researchers tested PowesSpy technology on a few Android devices like LG Nexus 4 and 5 and have found that the tracked location was 90% accurate. They also found that the location of your device can be determined even when you are not using it.
     
  • The spies could also make the target users download an application that uses PowerSpy technology so that they can track each and every move of the victim. The researchers also say that, even companies can make use of this technology to monitor the users for advertising purposes.

Limitations of PowerSpy

  • This technology has a few limitations as well; it’s been observed that PowerSpy works fine only for the pre-defined routes which means that if you are in a particular place for the first time, the spies will not be having enough data to track your location.
     
  • The researchers have also observed that it’s easy to track the location of a phone with just a couple of apps when compared to the phone having dozens of apps. This is because the power consumption of the device having lesser number of apps will be consistent when compared to the device having more apps.

So is there any way to stop this? Well, one thing you can do to stop this is to stop using the phone which is practically impossible for most of the users. When the users try to download apps like Instagram and Facebook, they are asked to provide their current location; but the power supply data if readily available to all the apps without even the users’ permission. So it’s really important that Google has to address the issue as the Android operating system provides the battery usage information to all the installed and downloaded apps for debugging purposes.

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