If you’ve told your smartphone to keep your location data a secret, that should be the end of it. But a disconcerting security flaw in Android devices means that your travels may be broadcast to strangers without your consent.
Electronic Frontier Foundation has discovered that devices running Android 3.1 Honeycomb or later which are put into Preferred Network Offload mode (a feature that allows devices to create Wi-Fi connections even when the screen is turned off) will share the recent Wi-Fi networks they’ve been connected to.
So if you’ve been connecting to “McDonald’s” or “Your Company Wi-Fi” then there’s a high risk that those locations will be viewable by anyone within Wi-Fi range of your device.
And most of us wouldn’t like the idea of leaving a trail of evidence on our travels, would we?
Google’s response to the EFF is as follows: “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.”
For a temporary workaround, the EFF suggests heading to your phone’s settings, selecting Advanced Wi-Fi, then ‘Keep Wi-Fi on During Sleep’, and then changing it to Never.