College Student Contact Tracing App Already Leaking Personal Data

By B.N. Frank

Countless reports and expert warnings all seem to indicate that wireless and “smart” devices are vulnerable to surveillance and data collection by the manufacturers themselves (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as well as by hackers who may also wreak additional havoc via theft and/or setting devices on fire.

All apps also seem to be vulnerable to unwanted surveillance and data collection by the app providers themselves or hackers. It didn’t take long for college students with contact tracing apps to be targeted too.

From Arstechnica:

College contact-tracing app readily leaked personal data, report finds

There are ways to protect privacy in contact-tracing apps… and then there’s Albion’s.

In an attempt to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, one Michigan college is requiring all students to install an app that will track their live locations at all times. Unfortunately, researchers have already found two major vulnerabilities in the app that can expose students’ personal and health data.

Albion College informed students two weeks before the start of the fall term that they would be required to install and run the contact tracing app, called Aura.

Exposure notification apps being deployed by states, based on the iOS and Android framework that Apple and Google announced earlier this year, are designed to minimize harms to privacy. That framework basically uses a phone’s Bluetooth capabilities as a proximity sensor, to see if the phone it’s installed on has been near a phone of someone who reports having tested positive for COVID-19.

Aura, however, goes all in on real-time location-tracking instead, as TechCrunch reports. The app collects students’ names, location, and COVID-19 status, then generates a QR code containing that information. The code either comes up “certified” if the data indicates a student has tested negative, or “denied” if the student has a positive test or no test data. In addition to tracking students’ COVID-19 status, the app will also lock a student’s ID card and revoke access to campus buildings if it detects that a student has left campus “without permission.”

Read full article

As noted in the article, invasive location tracking on college campuses is not new. Also noted – some parents and students think it’s creepy. It certainly doesn’t sound like the kind of college experience that most students would want.

In regard to internet access – using WiFi provides convenience but using a wired Ethernet connection is more secure. Wired connections also significantly reduce our exposure to harmful Electromagnetic Radiation which an increasing number of medical experts– including the World Health Organization – continue to warn is very bad for our health in all kinds of undesirable ways in addition to increased cancer risk.

Protect Your Privacy with a Phone Shield Faraday Bag

Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives.

Image: Truth Theory

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