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Security Experts Warn Consumers to Use Google with More Caution

Google released the smartphone assistant ‘Google Now’ with their latest Android release, the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This was Google’s first shot at Apple’s Siri, which has created waves among consumers for its ease of use and the range of services it offers. But security experts are not so happy about using this device. While Siri is more limited to the phone and does not record any data about the user, Now is more interactive and collects anonymous user data to give results which are more refined and relevant to the user.

Features of ‘Google Now’

Google Now was also introduced during the launch of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at the San Francisco I/O developers conference. This application was designed as a competition to the Apple’s Siri, which was well received by the smartphone community.

To take it a step further from Siri, Google has made this application more interactive by allowing it to collect user data on a daily basis. The application will collect information from the users’  calendars, search history, locations, Google Maps, most visited sites, etc to predict relevant and useful information for them.

This is an innovative feature which was never seen before in digital assistants. With this, you will be tracked even if you stop cookies/tracking online. This will give ‘Now’ an ability to give the user information on its own, like bus time table for an appointment later on in the day, warning the user about the weather on the day he/she plans to ride a bike to work, give a list of restaurants at lunch time, etc.

Experts Worried About Data Security

All these results will be given to the user only after analyzing the data collected over a period of time. Although this analyzing process is done by algorithms and programs, the data will be stored in Google’s servers. This is a treasure trove of information for hackers, who rely heavily on personal information from their victims to devise an attack strategy.

So, this means that there will be ready information, classified on the basis of a person’s name. All the hacker needs to do is get access to the database and there is all the information they need regarding the person of interest. We also cannot neglect the possibility of a Google employee misusing the information available.

Threat to Organizations

Some employees extensively use their smartphones for daily business. The usage includes access to the company’s website, the company’s database, resources and any other information which outsiders do not have access to. But the new tracking method employed by Google ‘Now’ is a readily available gateway to hackers. Web browsers are one of their most favorite gateways  to gain access to servers. Experts feel that this might be an open invitation for hackers, especially the ones trying to gain access to sites of reputed organizations.

Stacy K. Crook, an IDC analyst, is of the opinion that this is a real threat to organizations which make use of browser based applications. Crook feels that the best solution for this threat is to develop mobile browsers which are more secure and allows the user to have control over the flow of data, access points and other advanced settings.

Different Phones for Personal and Business Use

The only way you can avoid the threat to the organization you are employed in is to use a different phone for business and personal use. This may not be implemented by all as people don’t prefer carrying more than one mobile device with them at all times. But there seems to be no other alternative right now. On the bright side, people can have more privacy with this option,  as they can completely ignore their business phone on their day off.

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