Google’s “Latitude”: A major security flaw in Google’s global phone tracking system

 

One day after the global launch of Google’s “Latitude” phone tracking system, Privacy International has identified what appears to be a fundamental design problem that could substantially endanger user privacy.

Google Latitude, a new service from Google that allows you to send your location to Google Maps and share it with friends via many mobile phones.

With Google Latitude, you can:

  • See where your friends are and what they are up to
  • Quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call
  • Maintain complete control over your privacy

Latitude is not a separate service that people need to separately adopt and configure but an extension of existing Maps for Mobile functionality. People simply need to download the latest version of Maps for their phone and opt-in to location sharing.

Latitude’s location-awareness capabilities are built on Google’s Wifi and cell tower triangulation that form the basis for its My Location tool.

image

After studying the system documentation, PI has determined that the Google system lacks adequate safeguards to protect users from covert opt-in to Latitude’s tracking technology. While it is clear that Google has made at least some effort to embed privacy protections, Latitude appears to present an immediate privacy threat.

 image

Latitude is based on a reciprocal opt-in system. That is, before a person can be tracked, a sharing arrangement must be agreed with a requesting party. After this process has been executed, location data is made available on a time-to-time or continuous basis. On the face of it, this arrangement might seem an adequate protection. However this safeguard is largely useless if Latitude could be enabled by a second party without a user’s knowledge or consent. Privacy International believes this risk is substantial and could in the future adversely affect millions of phone users.

The following scenarios has been considered as some of the ways that the service can be abused:

  • An employer provides staff with Latitude-enabled phones on which a reciprocal sharing agreement has been enabled, but does not inform staff of this action or that their movements will be tracked.
  • A parent gifts a mobile phone to a child without disclosing that the phone has been Latitude-enabled.
  • A partner, friend or other person gains access to an unattended phone (left on a bar on in the house) and enables Latitude without the other person’s knowledge.
  • A Latitude-enabled phone is given as a gift.
  • A phone left unattended, for example with security personnel or a repair shop, is covertly enabled.

Privacy International believes Google has created an unnecessary danger to the privacy and security of users. It is clear the company is aware of the need to create a message alert on Latitude-enabled phones but has chosen to launch the service without universal access to this safeguard. The Director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said:

Many people will see Latitude as a cool product, but the reality is that Google has yet again failed to deliver strong privacy and security. The company has a long way to go before it can capture the trust of phone users.

As it stands right now, Latitude could be a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends. The dangers to a user’s privacy and security are as limitless as the imagination of those who would abuse this technology."

 

Reference: www.privacyinternational.org

273 Comments

  1. http://tatu-cats.od.ua/user/LorraineBooze/

    Excellent write-up. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Continue the good work!

    Reply
  2. payfirstsolutions.com

    Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.
    I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this web site.

    Reply
  3. Andres

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely
    will come back later on. I want to encourage you to
    continue your great job, have a nice afternoon!

    Reply
  4. potential real

    naturally like your web site however you have to take a look at the
    spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife
    with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform
    the reality on the other hand I’ll certainly come again again.

    Reply
  5. download following

    Terrific article! This is the type of info that should be shared around
    the internet. Disgrace on the seek engines for no longer positioning this publish
    upper! Come on over and discuss with my site . Thanks =)

    Reply
  6. Cinda

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew
    of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet
    my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this
    for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.

    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new
    updates.

    Reply
  7. new ipod mp3 player

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is very
    helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  8. web.enerjiuzmanlari.org.tr

    I was recommended this website via my cousin. I
    am not positive whether this post is written by him as no one else realize such
    distinctive approximately my trouble. You are wonderful!
    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. start me up

    I think that what you composed made a lot of sense.
    But, what about this? suppose you were to write a killer headline?
    I am not suggesting your information isn’t solid., but suppose
    you added something that grabbed folk’s attention? I mean Google’s “Latitude”
    : A major security flaw in Google’s global phone tracking system – Kramfs Tech Chronicles is kinda plain. You ought
    to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write article titles to grab people interested.
    You might add a related video or a related picture or two to grab people interested about everything’ve got
    to say. In my opinion, it could make your website
    a little livelier.

    Reply
  10. http://www.speranzaonlus.org/

    This is my first time pay a quick visit
    at here and i am genuinely pleassant to read all at single place.

    Reply
  11. http://imprinting.co.il

    Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!

    Reply
  12. www.billmartin.ca

    After going over a few of the articles on your blog, I seriously appreciate your technique of writing a blog.
    I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future.
    Please visit my web site too and tell me how you feel.

    Reply
  13. travel meetup groups

    Hello colleagues, its wonderful piece of writing on the topic
    of teachingand completely defined, keep it up all the time.

    Reply
  14. travel meetup groups

    What’s up to every , as I am genuinely eager of reading this website’s post to be updated regularly.

    It contains fastidious data.

    Reply
  15. Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    whoah this blog is magnificent i really like reading your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You know, a lot of individuals are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

    Reply
  16. air travel

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this article to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a great read. Many
    thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  17. london travel

    If you wish for to get a good deal from this paragraph then you have to apply
    these techniques to your won weblog.

    Reply
  18. travel guide

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet users, its really really good article
    on building up new weblog.

    Reply
  19. place macau tourism

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on open golf. Regards

    Reply
  20. golf clubs

    Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any user
    discussion forums that cover the same topics
    discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get responses from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.

    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Kudos!

    Reply
  21. studystruggles.de

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more
    of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your site
    in my social networks!

    Reply
  22. Jasmine

    I am sure this post has touched all the internet people, its
    really really nice article on building up new weblog.

    Reply
  23. good golf course

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and
    I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *