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Smartphone Habits Can Make You Easy to Identify

The way you use your smartphone and the apps you rely on make it easy to identify you, putting your security and privacy in danger, according to University of Bath psychologists.  

What to Know:

  • A person’s habits in how they use their smartphone’s different apps provide enough information to narrow in on their identity in more than one in three cases.

  • Smartphone users tend to have consistent patterns in their application use behaviors on a day-to-day basis.

  • Using data from 4680 days of app use, researchers were able to track app use patterns of each of the 780 users who took part in the study.

  • Just a single day’s use was able to help narrow in on the top 10 most likely individuals that the data belonged to, correctly identifying who the user was 75% of the time.

  • App use data alone is often collected by a smartphone automatically and a user doesn’t have to be logged into an app for a reasonable prediction.

  • Law enforcement officials can incorporate this knowledge to identify who a phone belongs to if they have access to the person’s past phone history.

This is a summary of the article “Behavioral Consistency in the Digital Age,” published in Psychological Science on February 17, 2022. Full article.

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