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Researchers Say One Out Of Three People Can be Identified Through Smartphone Usage

Smartphones have become a crucial part of the life of the average kind of individual because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making their lives easier in a truly wide range of ways if you think about it. However, people are often unaware of how their smartphone usage can be distinct to the point where data regarding it could very well reveal their identity even if they are browsing anonymously.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that researchers from the University of Bath and Lancaster University have conducted a study wherein they analyzed data derived from hundreds of smartphones. Around 780 people’s data was analyzed as part of this research, and it revealed that around one third of them could be identified simply through their smartphone usage patterns which just goes to show how fragile someone’s privacy can end up being in the modern era.

Almost thirteen years worth of smartphone usage data was fed into various models that then learned usage patterns. Once information regarding patterns was established, predictions could then be made and these predictions were accurate one out of three times with all things having been considered and taken into account. If you narrow the data sets down to ten candidates that it could possibly belong to, the actual owner would be part of that list 75% of the time so accuracy increases exponentially by widening the sample size by a pretty miniscule amount.

Narrowing down a sample size from one thousand to just ten is significant progress if you think about it, and the fact that this can be done just by analyzing smartphone usage patterns indicates just how revealing this information can be if it is studied in an appropriate enough manner. People tend to use their smartphones in a way that remains more or less consistent, such as opening Facebook after work every day or starting their day out with Twitter or some other kind of news media source that they prefer.

The predictability of smartphone usage is a major aspect of what makes identifying people as easy as it currently is. This creates a lot of possibilities from a law enforcement point of view, but if this power falls into the wrong hands it could result in truly widespread privacy violations since it would not take all that much effort to start identifying people once smartphone usage data is obtained from a large enough sample.

Another thing to note is that the consistency in one person’s smartphone usage is not going to be indicative of how someone else might use their smartphones. Not everyone will use Facebook or the calculator app the same number of times.

Things like job information and personal preferences can be uncovered almost instantaneously, and this path can very quickly lead to even more private information being uncovered. It is important to keep yourself safe online, and being aware of how you use your smartphone and the patterns this can create is a very important part of that since you never know when this data could be used against you.


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