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Find your Lost Droid or Compromise Privacy

I recently came across an article from a local newspaper where a man had lost his iPhone and Blackberry. Using a couple of applications, he was able to track his phones to the next block neighbour. Involving the local police, the man went to the neighbor’s house and asked for the phones to be returned but the family was at complete denial. The victim, using his laptop, tracked the phones using an app and activate the ringer. The iPhone was found in the closet of a 12-year old. After confessing and asked about the blackberry, the 12-year old denied again. The victim tracked and activated the ringer to his blackberry – Surprise Surprise – the Blackberry was found in  a pair of shoes. The boy was taken away by law enforcement and the story ends.
This article made me think if I had a similar solution if my smart phone gets stolen. After searching online and comparing many different apps…
One of the apps that topped the list was: Wheres My Droid.
This app allows the authorized user to track and find the phone by sending a text message, turn the ringer volume up if its silent, and activate a siren/ringer to find it. In addition, the app can also get the GPS coordinates with a link to Google Maps to get an accurate location of the phone.
To prepare myself for the worst, I installed the application on my phone and tested it out. Pretty amazing I must say, i saw the text message come up, turn the ringer volume up and make the phone ring while it was silent. However; what I was unable to do is track the GPS coordinates of the phone.
The app status listed: “GPS and Network locations are unavailable. Both failed they may be off.”
This made me realize why my GPS and Network locations are turned off. A news article by NBC shows how online photos can release sensitive information like the location of a picture by Geo tagging. Due to the dangers Geo tagging can pose to my family and myself, I had my GPS satellites and wireless networks turned off under ‘Location & Security’ (Note: this is different from WiFi, which I use daily).
Every phone is different, but for the majority of the smartphones, the settings to enable or disable the GPS and wireless networks are found in Settings > Location & Security.
At this point, it comes down to a personal choice – Either be able to track the GPS coordinates of your phone when lost/stolen, or compromise some personal information like location to online strangers when uploading a photo from your smartphone.
Personally, I see releasing personal data online to be more dangerous; but, if you are someone who loses their phone often and cannot afford to for any reason – maybe you would want to leave the GPS and Network locations turned on.
What are your thoughts? Which one of the two – Find your lost phone, or – Compromise privacy, would you prefer?

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Irfaan Bhimji

As a Senior Business Consultant, Mr. Bhimji has worked extensively to utilize various technologies to develop and customize complete end-to-end e-commerce site implementations using complex platforms such as WebSphere Commerce, Cybersource, IBM Tealeaf, IBM Coremetrics and Magento Commerce Enterprise. His recent projects include customizing e-commerce sites by implementing a full range of features from back end business logic customizations to front end presentation layer customizations. Mr. Bhimji has worked as the QA Testing Lead and led initiatives to perform Functional, Unit, System Integration, Performance and Cross Platform testing. He is also responsible for creating test plans, write test cases, develop testing strategies and lead testing teams based on specific business requirements. He applies engineering Subject Matter Expertise and advanced test concepts to detect defects and faults in the applications under test. Mr.Bhimji also has a proven track record as an effective team leader for leading business units to design and develop ‘custom solutions’ to help achieve client goals. He has led projects through several key design phases such as requirements gathering, conceptual design, detailed design, testing, prototyping and deployment that are built on various technologies.

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