How to Make Your Phone (Nearly) Impossible to Track
The more we use our phones, the more personal information we give up. So how do you make your phone impossible to track and keep your online data secure? We asked tech experts for their top tips.
Let’s face it: At best, most of us are reliant on our phones these days. (At worst, we’re downright addicted.) But do you ever consider the things your Smartphone knows about you? You may know how to tell if your computer has been hacked and what hackers can do with your cell phone number, but are you clued in to common Smartphone security threats and data-tracking measures? Knowing the risks may have you wondering how to make your phone impossible to track.
See, even the most secure phones track users in a number of different ways, including through Bluetooth, WI-Fi and GPS. You may think that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. But in today’s data-driven economy, your info is worth a lot. And there are good reasons you may want to avoid tracking. Perhaps you don’t want people making money off your data, you’re worried it might fall into the wrong hands or you just don’t like the idea of being snooped on.
“Location technology in cell phones could be helpful when looking for the nearest gas station, but it can also enable others to retrieve information about your whereabouts, legally or illegally,” Stephanie Benoit Kurtz, lead faculty for the College of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Phoenix, told Reader’s Digest. “Users rarely read the fine print associated with what is being tracked, and shared in that tiny print might be some very disturbing trends—everything from tracking the location of your device at all times to sharing information from your device, such as other applications installed, contacts, text messages and emails.”
If this concerns you too, look for signs someone’s tracking your cell phone, brush up on online security secrets and read on for some tips on how to make your phone impossible to track.
You may think of the people tracking your Smartphone as shadowy figures looking to steal your identity, your money or both. But there’s a whole range of people and organizations that track smart phones, not just hackers.
Smartphone tracking can be either active or passive. And no, those good passwords you’ve been using won’t make a difference. Active tracking, which uses GSM, 3G or 4G, is sometimes called a man-in-the-middle attack. This is illegal in most countries but may be employed by law enforcement and government security agencies investigating a specific threat.
Passive tracking uses Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi and GPS to approximate a user’s position. Various applications on your phone employ these methods. With some, that’s the whole point. Consider location-tracking apps and services that help parents keep a tab on their kids. Others harvest your data for their own business development and marketing purposes or sell it to the highest bidder.
Advertisers might use your data to show you targeted ads. Even the government buys location data, a fact that the Wall Street Journal reported in 2020. The Department of Homeland Security purchased data pulled from smartphones, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used it to track undocumented immigrants.
How to make your phone impossible to track
While the government and law enforcement will probably always be able to track your phone if they really want to (more on that below), there are ways to reduce mobile security threats, delete your digital footprint, avoid spyware and make your phone impossible to track by apps. Let’s take a look.