A number of times recently I’ve had friends send me links to “fun tracking” websites such as track your partner. The email itself is fine and carries little or no risk, but the link itself throws up all sorts of issues.
These “fun tracking” websites started to appear 12-18 months ago to collect mobile/cell phone data. They appear as fun – that’s what they want you to believe! but really what is the purpose of these websites? Why would you give them your mobile/cell phone number? You don’t know them or trust them – do you?
Here’s what happens when you click on the link:
1. you are asked to put in a cell/mobile number (maybe yours – maybe a friend or someone you don’t like!)
2. the site will claim it can pinpoint a cell/mobile using a handsets global positioning system
3. you will see a rather realistic map and image and then it zooms down having found the location of the cell/mobile phone
4. the next thing is you then get to find out the location of cell/mobile phone user is. Well not quite! You are greeted with a sexual image or video and that’s that and you just laugh out loud! Think again!
Ok – here’s what you probably provided the website if you clicked on one of those links:
1. IP address (your postal code in other words) of your computer or smartphone
2. your cell/mobile phone number or someone elses
3. you’ve now provided the website the ability to search cell/mobile phone numbers to establish country, IMEI, operator information, your address and more…
4. the link you clicked may contain spyware or malware or some type of keylogger (oh my god!)
5. Lastly and most seriously for us – we have noticed that sometimes you might receive a text message which claims you have signed up to a site with your cell/mobile. Every text you receive you will be charged a “receive text” tariff (the same charging that is in operation in the US for receiving texts). When we contacted our cell/mobile phone operator they told us to text back “STOP”. Not a great idea as it alerts the sender that the account is active. We ignored between 6-7 texts messages with images (adult content) got charged for them, but did not reply back with “STOP”. The texts stopped after number 7 and no more charges were debited to our account.
GPS tracking – erhh – I don’t think so!
Worth remembering also, not all cell/mobiles have GPS. GPS can only work if it is switched on and most smartphones do not have GPS – one cell/mobile that does is the Nokia N95 model. Also for legal purposes a company cannot track someone without that persons permission – obviously if you are Government you can get away with this and most things. 😉
Something to ponder… these “fun tracking” websites exploit loopholes in your computers security and leave your cell/phone number up for abuse. Furthermore it leaves you vulnerable to different types of frauds including, identity fraud, card fraud and cell/mobile phone fraud (often referred to as “Cell Phone Account Tagging”). A number of cases of cell phone account tagging have started to appear in the US and some instances here in the UK too. You have been warned!!!!!!!!!
Safe surfing folks!