July 26th, 2015
A smartphone has become such a ubiquitous piece of hardware that it is rather rare to find someone not using it. The biggest USP of these devices is the amount of things they can do for you, through apps. The role of the internet has increased in said apps.
Let us explore this a little bit.
The apps mostly used these days adopt a new form of deployment model wherein even though the framework of the app itself is installed locally on your device, the user data is stored as a cloud-based copy in a server somewhere (fully or partially).
This arrangement has two main advantages –
1. It is very space-efficient. If you have the bandwidth to use cloud storage, you have the option to keep your device’s memory free. It makes sense to offload data occupying your local storage onto a server. For example, you can create an online repository of your whole photo collection on cloud-based services. Another example would be the ability to backup messages online. This will also mean that your data cannot be lost (We’ll come back to this in a minute).
2. It is convenient because it enables you to carry all your data with you, online. In other words, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your pen-drive at home. Your data goes wherever you go and all you need to access it is the internet.
Sounds great and for the most part, it is. Still, there is another side of the scenario, where things go awry.
In particular –
1. Solicitation and distribution of user-generated data without their consent in the name of ‘quality improvement’ or some other moniker is big problem. Not only is this immoral, it is also unlawful. It also puts users and their privacy in jeopardy. The last thing anyone needs, is their personal information going public without permission. Many times, the user unknowingly agrees to sharing their data while installing apps only to later find out their mistake. Clever word usage in the installation agreement or user ignorance? Take your pick.
2. Another issue is the threat of a hack. The problem with cloud-based approach is that the data is vulnerable to attacks and unwanted access. There have been many infamous cases of online data leaks (a recent example being ‘Celebgate’) which have exposed the weaknesses in security arrangements in place on the internet.
It does not bode well for anyone really and that is why even the government is stepping into the scene to set some ground rules.
A committee set up by the Department of Telecomm (DoT) has advised steps that will regulate and monitor content on mobile apps. Things such as the location of data servers in the country, will be put under observation. The committee has argued that cyber security is one of the most important aspects of modern communication scenario and that it has far-reaching implications for the country and its security. The measures are being taken so as to prevent the unfortunate scenario of pilferage of sensitive data such as user data as well as information pertaining to national security.
We, at The Logical Indian encourage the constructive, positive and safe usage of the internet for everyone. Always be aware of the ‘permissions’ that an app asks of you during installation. Also, make sure you are aware of your online footprint and take active interest in your security. Only upload data which needs to be uploaded, instead of uploading everything. Remember to be a ‘smart’ user of your smartphone.
Until next time, safe surfing.
Image Courtesy: PharmaFile