This security loop hole could see users pay more for products and services
A research team in Princeton University has found that smartphones can track their owner's movements by analysing the device's battery usage.
The researchers found that websites could use this battery information to monitor people as they browse online. Smartphone software sends data to internet pages, allowing them to offer differing services to users depending on their battery level - to avoid draining it further.
While this may sound useful to heavy smartphone users, security researcher Lukasz Olejnik has warned
“Privacy risks and threats arise and surface even in seemingly innocuous mechanisms. We have seen it before, and we will see it again.”
He suggested firms want to start buying access to battery life stats, which would allow them target people when they were vulnerable. For example, if a user opens a taxi app when their battery is low, they are likely to agree to pay higher fares so their car arrives before the phone stops working.
Olejnik added: “Some companies may be analysing the possibility of monetising the access to battery levels. When battery is running low, people might be prone to some – otherwise different – decisions. In such circumstances, users will agree to pay more for a service.”