Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that Android could be broadcasting location history

Wi-Fi security
For those who prefer to stay as secure as possible, especially when dealing with mobile devices and public Wi-Fi hotspots, a new warning from the Electronic Frontier Foundation could be a cause for concern.
In a new article posted to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, there’s an explicit warning suggesting that your Android-based device could very well be broadcasting your location history to anyone that’s within Wi-Fi range of you. The report claims that Android’s Preferred Network Offload (PNO), which is designed to make sure that your handset stays connected to a Wi-Fi network, even when the display is off, to help conserve battery life and carrier data usage, could also be blasting your Wi-Fi usage history to anyone within range. Essentially telling anyone who might be looking where you’ve been, and the time you were there, based on the Wi-Fi network’s name.
Google has responded to the claim, saying that they are happy to be made aware of the situation, and that a fix is being considered, all with the aim of not making it harder for people to connect to hidden networks (or networks in general, one would imagine).
Here’s the statement, from the report:

“We take the security of our users’ location data very seriously and we’re always happy to be made aware of potential issues ahead of time. Since changes to this behavior would potentially affect user connectivity to hidden access points, we are still investigating what changes are appropriate for a future release.
The EFF suggests that a fix can be done on some Android-based devices, suggesting that users head into their Wi-Fi Advanced Settings, and change the setting labeled “Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep” to off. Not all handsets have this option, though, so if you want to take the extra step to stay secure, you’ll have to turn Wi-Fi off manually.
You can find the full report from the EFF through the source link below.
[via EFF]


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