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Tracked and hacked: Protecting your data on your smartphone

Posted at 4:27 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 20:05:44-05

Tracked and hacked. It's the world we live in. 

"People are becoming numb to this, and that’s a problem," said WPTV Internet Security Analyst Alan Crowetz who president and CEO of InfoStream, Inc.

Your data is everywhere and it's valuable to the bad guys. "As a general rule, everyone has been hacked to a certain degree," he said. 

Case in point: two recent headlines in the news. Google admits to tracking some smartphone owners even when the location is turned off. Also, after a massive breach, Uber said it paid hackers to delete stolen data on 57 million users and drivers.

"You don’t realize just what the bad guys can do with the information," said Crowetz. 

He went on to say think long and hard about which apps you need and how important convenience really is to you. 

"There is a trade-off between security and usability, which means if you want to have a great app like Uber, you have to trade security down," he said. 

So what can you do? Give limited information. Security experts also recommend using aliases, different email addresses and various passwords for all your apps. 

"Both Yahoo and Google have disposable emails so you can still get the email, but delete that sub email if you get hacked and still continue to get your regular emails," he said. 

You are your biggest enemy online and Crowetz said to ask yourself this: "Would you take candy from a stranger who pulled up in a van that pulled in front of your house?"   If the answer is no, Crowetz said the same goes for your phone or computer. 

We asked if using a virtual private network (VPN) on your smartphone helps.  Crowetz said it may help you, but if you give your information to outside apps or sources, it's out of your hands.