Do You Use Foursquare?

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Jan 23, 2014 03:09 am PST

In Internet circles, privacy is sometimes considered a bad word: bad in the sense that it sometimes means, “Oh no, don’t complain.” But the truth is, if we in the tech arena don’t continue to raise issues about online privacy and security, websites and their companies’ leadership teams will continue to request and demand access to our confidential information under the pretense of doing business, or in scarier terms, “doing business as usual.”

One website that causes concern is Foursquare, a location-based social networking app designed specifically for smartphone and mobile device use. While the app looks friendly and harmless, its explanation reads as follows: “Foursquare is a fun, free app for your phone that makes the world easier to use. Keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money, and unlock rewards.”

Businesses can set up pages on Foursquare to offer discounts, points, or specials. Users can check-in while physically at a business location, use the promoted discounts, and simultaneously share updates on Facebook and Twitter. Users can also alert their friends as to their location, so they can all meet at a coffee shop, restaurant, bar, movie theater, etc.

According to Foursquare’s Privacy Policy (remember, you should always read these), there is something called “Private Check-Ins.” The site explains: “Sometimes you’ll want to check-in without sharing your specific whereabouts with friends. This is why we created “Private check-ins” – a way of adding places to your check-in history, earning points, and adding to your mayor and badge counts, while maintaining completely privacy (even from friends). We find this comes in handy on dates, dinners with parents, or at a coffee shop when you’re just trying to get some work done – really anywhere where you don’t want friends to drop in. To check-in “privately”, simply select “No” on the “Share this check-in with friends” option seen on every “check-in” screen across our mobile apps.” But here’s the question: if you choose “Private Check-In,” why go through the process of checking in at all?

Do we really want other people to know where we are at any given moment in a day? Do we want our movements chronicled in social media?

Instead of broadcasting our every move, we should focus instead on protecting our privacy. Once the bad guys, aka, the hackers, get our private info, our movements will no longer be the only thing that becomes public.


Allan Pratt MBAAllan Pratt, an infosec strategist, represents the alignment of technology, marketing, and management. With an MBA Degree and four CompTIA certs in computers, networks, servers, and security, Allan translates tech issues into everyday language that is easily understandable by all business units. His expertise includes the installation and maintenance of all aspects of the PC and peripheral lifecycle and the planning and integration of end-to-end security solutions. Allan also teaches both the CompTIA A+ and the CompTIA Security+ certification courses, and has been quoted in industry publications. Follow Allan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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