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[Slashdot] - Private Intel Firm Buys Location Data to Track People to their 'Doorstep'


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A threat intelligence firm called HYAS, a private company that tries to prevent or investigates hacks against its clients, is buying location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples' phones around the world, and using it to unmask hackers. The company is a business, not a law enforcement agency, and claims to be able to track people to their "doorstep." From a report: The news highlights the complex supply chain and sale of location data, traveling from apps whose users are in some cases unaware that the software is selling their location, through to data brokers, and finally to end clients who use the data itself. The news also shows that while some location firms repeatedly reassure the public that their data is focused on the high level, aggregated, pseudonymous tracking of groups of people, some companies do buy and use location data from a largely unregulated market explicitly for the purpose of identifying specific individuals. HYAS' location data comes from X-Mode, a company that started with an app named "Drunk Mode," designed to prevent college students from making drunk phone calls and has since pivoted to selling user data from a wide swath of apps. Apps that mention X-Mode in their privacy policies include Perfect365, a beauty app, and other innocuous looking apps such as an MP3 file converter. "As a TI [threat intelligence] tool it's incredible, but ethically it stinks," a source in the threat intelligence industry who received a demo of HYAS' product told Motherboard.

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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