A CYBER security expert is urging people to purge their smartphone contact lists to avoid
In a recent blog post, Peter Gregory, author of more than 40 books on online privacy, warned that having too many contacts can be “toxic” for your mobile.
It’s a good idea to cull your iPhone or Android contact list every now and thenCredit: Apple
That’s because many apps access the phone numbers and email addresses we connect with and build webs of associations.
This may allow hackers, law enforcement or intelligence agencies to know your identity and those of your connections.
“If a law enforcement agency considers you a person of interest, they may discover that you use encrypted messaging apps such as Signal,” Peter, senior director at security firm Cyber GRC, wrote on Tuesday.
“While the agency will not be able to view the contents of your conversations, it will be able to see with whom you are conversing.”
He added that the risk this entails can be thought of from another perspective.
“Consider an active law enforcement investigation focusing on a particular person,” Peter wrote.
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“If you are in the person’s contact list, and if that person is known to be communicating with you on an encrypted service, then you may become another person of interest in the investigation.”
This might not sound like a big issue until you consider how many contacts you may have accumulated across multiple online accounts.
Peter highlighted that he had thousands of them stored on multiple services – primarily, Apple, Yahoo and Google.
That means there were thousands of people who were potentially leaving his own contact details exposed to snoopers.
“In current and previous jobs over the past 30 years, I’ve had associations with numerous clients, partners, vendors, co-workers and other associates, resulting in an accumulation of thousands of contacts,” Peter wrote.
“I barely knew most of them and for most, I have no idea when or where I knew them or met them.
“I had slowly assembled a vast web of associations that could be used against me.”
The privacy expert urged people to delete unneeded contacts to keep their data as secure as possible.
“Contact data can be just as toxic as other forms of sensitive information,” he warned.
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