Wednesday 13 July 2016

SumTips: 5 Reasons to NOT Download Pokémon Go

Pokémon in the wild
[Image source: Sadie Hernandez]
If you aren't one of the 10 million people who have downloaded Pokémon Go in the last 2 weeks, consider yourself lucky, not left out. The augmented reality mobile game has been praised for getting gamers off the couch and into the real world, but its unique approach has also proven to bring a host of insecurities.

SumRando offers 5 reasons mobile devices and Pokémon monsters don’t mix:

1.    Unrestricted access to your Google account: iOS users choosing to join Pokémon Go with their Google account were in for a surprise: a code error gave developers “full access” to Google accounts. According to Google, “When you grant full account access, the application can see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account.” Think: sending emails, reading documents and viewing search history and images.

2.    Game “lures” to unsafe locations: In case the threat of utilizing public Wi-Fi wasn’t bad enough (don’t forget your VPN), Pokémon Go allows players to “lure” others to selected locations. Already, four American teenagers have used the feature to target and rob fellow players.

3.    Risk of hacking for users outside of Australia, New Zealand and the United States: Pokémon Go has been officially released in only three countries, leaving eager users in the rest of the world with unofficial, security-compromising versions. Beware: in order to “side-load” unofficial versions, users must first disable security settings, leaving themselves open to malware attacks.

4.    Excessive data collection: Niantic, the startup behind Pokémon Go, has access to precise and general locations of players, as well as USB storage, contacts and network connections for Android users and camera and photos for iPhone users (along with the aforementioned Google account information). In turn, Niantic has the right to share this information with third parties, including law enforcement and buyers. Further, it is unclear how securely the small firm keeps all this data. Just imagine where it could end up…

5.    Risk of data breach: A database as full as Pokémon Go’s is simply a breach waiting to happen. Gary Miliefsky, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security advisor and current CEO of SnoopWall, a cybersecurity company, predicted, “When they hit 25 to 20 million records, they’re going to be breached, and they’re at 10 million right now.”

If you still feel an urge to chase Pokémon characters around town, try the old-fashioned trading cards. Your security will thank you.

SumRando Cybersecurity is a Mauritius-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider. Surf secure and stay Rando!

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