Whether you realize it or not, your smartphone could be tracking your whereabouts, including the places you go and details down to the minute of when you've arrived.
Sound creepy? To many, it is. Data security expert Tyler Wildman recently told WTLV-TV that smartphones frequently track the places a user visits, how many times they've been there and what days and times they were there.
The risks for users run far and wide: "If someone lost their cell phone and a person was able to get that they would be able to know where you live, what time you are there, look through this history and know your habits, when you're at work," Wildman told WTLV-TV.
Since all of this information is uploaded through the cloud and travels to servers, there's also the risk that information can get hacked along the way.
Companies are interested in tracking users' visits because they sell this information for targeted advertising purposes based on location. Location tracking is also needed to enable GPS-based apps with certain functions, like providing directions from one destination to another.
Fortunately, users can opt out of allowing their smartphone to collect this type of information. They can take simple steps to prevent their phone from silently recording their whereabouts.
If you have an iPhone, users can go to settings, click on location services and take a look at which apps are tracking their location. You can also look at the bottom, under system services, to check if frequent locations is turned off. By turning it off and clearing your history, your smartphone will stop its running tally of where you've been.
You can still enable your smartphone's map to work by keeping location services on but turning off the frequent locations option.
Android smartphone users can complete similar steps. They can go to settings, choose location, select Google Location History and then check the top box. For a list of more specific steps, check out Google's directions.
Of course, if you're still having trouble deactivating the location tracking features, you can always call your smartphone company or stop by a store to ask for assistance.
As an extra and important precaution, always use a passcode on your smartphone to ensure your privacy and security, should your phone fall into the wrong hands.