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The Pokemon Go phenomenon that allows players to find and catch their favourite Pokemon out in the real world is taking over countries across the globe.
Pokemon Go is a free app on IOS and Android devices that allows players (depending on time and location) to track, find, and capture different Pokemon. The app works by using your phones GPS and clock so that you are able to locate Pokemon based on your location in real time.
The game allows players to live the fantasy of being able to experience what it would actually be like in the world of Pokemon. But experts are warning that it could leave people open to easy cyber attacks. So should we be concerned?
In order to play the app you are required to sign in from an existing Google account – which allows the app access to your account information. This would mean that the app could potentially see and modify your account information.
Whilst some say this is a risk, the app has launched an update to fix login issues, as well as changing the ability to access all of your Google account information. Since the update, the app can now only access your user Google ID and address.
However, even with the update, Pokemon Go developers Niantic, may still have access to sensitive Google account information. The striking fact that Niantic holding that much sensitive data on millions of people who are playing Pokrmon Go could make them an ideal target for hackers.
Ultimately, if hackers were to get hold of so much personal information, it could have serious consequences for Pokemon Go users. In theory, a hacker could gain full control of your Google account. This means that hackers may be able to possibly search your history; find out your home and office address; have access to your photos; and many other bits of personal information that people have on their Google account.
This wealth of information can be used by hackers for multiple reasons. Most often email addresses are used as an authentication method. For websites that require email addresses and passwords, with access to your email account, hackers can gain access to other personal accounts through changing the password.
Niantic claim that they never intended to have full access to users Google accounts. However the fact that they did and the wealth of information they did hold on the people who downloaded the app could have resulted in a huge hacking scandal.
Luckily the first Pokemon Go update has reduced the Google account access level thus limiting the personal information available for it to view. However, as a rule of thumb, it is always best to check what ANY info an app wants access to on your device before downloading & installing – the more sensitive data it can access the more of a target it’ll become in the eyes of a hacker!
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