How to Improve Privacy on Google Maps
By Johan Curtis 5 minutes
Gone are the days when searching for a location was a despised task. Having to stop and ask for directions every minute, getting confused between roads, it was all extremely confusing. Bless the soul who invented GPS and made our lives easier.
Now reaching destinations or searching for new locations has never been easier; everything is just a link away. However, it is also important to improve privacy on google maps or such GPS apps.
What is GPS?
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a global navigation satellite system that covers and provides you with location accuracy, time, distances, and speed. It powers the maps you use and helps you locate the destination you wish to reach.
GPS doesn’t need the user to transmit any data; it operates on the internet reception of the device. The map applications you use are all running on a GPS server. The most popular application is Google Maps.
What is Google Maps?
Google Maps is known as a GPS device or application which is powered by Google. It is a web mapping service that offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views, real-time traffic conditions, and the planning of your route for traveling by foot, car, bicycle, and air, or public transportation.
How Does Google Maps Work?
Google Maps has probably been one of the most efficient mapping services. It is known to provide accurate and real-time information. However, the question that arises is where Maps get all the information from? How does it seem to know everything?
Google relies on a few channels to collect information. It has many mapping partners who have various data sources that submit data to Google, it also has street view based on the GPS coordinates of multiple vehicles, Google earth also provides Maps with satellite view, it can access your location through your smartphone as soon as you consent to it, lastly, local guides also play a huge role in helping Maps operate.
Is Google Maps Safe?
Most of us tend to think that what harm could such a basic application do? More importantly, the idea that Google owns it so it must be safe.
Maps keep track of your location history. It knows your daily routes, tracks your time, and even remembers common addresses for you, which includes your home, work, and any other important address you’ve saved.
Normally, this is great. It makes things incredibly easy for you. However, the service could be compromised. It’s the notion of one company having access to such information that doesn’t sit well with many people. The ability of the service to keep that data safe is a concern.
How can Maps be Compromised?
There are many ways in which Maps can be misused to either mislead the user or cause them harm. The most common tactic of which is predicting traffic congestion by counting the number of smartphones connected in a particular area and their speed. If there seem to be too many phones in one area that are working considerably slow, then Maps automatically configures that area as congested.
This technique could easily be adopted by competing firms or businesses, which could mislead the public from reaching your location as the Maps would have displayed it as a congested area.
Moreover, hackers can gain access to Google Maps by compromising the satellite signals through special equipment to misguide a driver onto a fake route to reach the wrong destination. This is called the “Ghost Map” technique. It is more dangerous than a rival tweaking traffic time; it can potentially lead to kidnapping or robbery.
Furthermore, as mentioned previously, Google Maps keeps track of your location history and travel timings. Since every service is vulnerable to breaches, it could mean that your information could be leaked and used against you. Similarly, it could be passed onto third-parties.
How to Protect Yourself While Using Maps?
It is always wise to take extra precautionary measures in order to ensure your safety. Here are a few steps on how you can improve your privacy on Google Maps:
- Turn Off Location Services: Your android or iOS phones are actively keeping track of your location and recording it for accuracy purposes. It may be in your best interests to keep location sharing off until necessary; you can do so by going into your device’s settings, clicking on-location services, and turning it off.
- Delete Location History: Maps keeps tabs on your locations and most visited places, even though the information is only visible to you and cannot be accessed by anyone else until they are using your Google account. However, in the event of a breach, a hacker could gain access to this information.
- Update Applications: It is always wise to be upgraded to the latest version in order to yield maximum security.
- Download a VPN: It could be used as an extra preventative measure. A VPN is meant to keep your presence online anonymous and hide your information or traffic from being accessed or recorded. FastestVPN will ensure that a hacker is unable to access your activity and any information regarding your locations.
Maps have been one of the most useful applications for our everyday lives. It has made commuting a piece of cake. However, it never hurts to stay extra careful about your security and privacy.
With so many applications emerging and new technological features, we must ensure that we are aware and well versed about such things because the internet is a vast platform that could interfere with privacy.