Thursday08 December 2022

Girls Around Me App for the iPhone Is a Stalker or Pedophile's Dream App

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Girls_Around-01When the smart phone first hit the market it was designed with the business person in mind. It was something like a combination between a PDA and a Phone; in fact the first smartphone that I owned was a PDA complete with the PalmOS. It was a horrible brick of a phone and was quickly replaced with a HTC PPC 2600. Phone manufacturers quickly caught on to the fact that people other than business people wanted to do more with their phones. The idea of the connected phone was born and we started to see even the cheapest handsets with mobile web browsers games and message sharing.

Although many credit Apple with the birth of the smartphone as we know it today there were other phones out that could have been labeled as smartphones before the iPhone hit the market. What Apple did was to bring this new device more firmly into the consumer market. Still the first iPhone was limited in many ways. There was no real GPU functions, no way to install Apps (all were web-based) and a few other things. It was not until the second generation of the iPhone hit the market along with Google’s Android that things began to really go south for the new smartphone.

What I mean by going south here is that the phone carriers, application developers and even the phone makers began to discover how much data is out there freely flowing around. When someone turns on their phone they have no idea how easy it is to not only track them, but also to find out a wealth of information about them with very little effort. This lack of privacy in mobile devices is now compounded with the utter lack of real privacy (and awareness) found in social networking sites. Social sites like Facebook are exceptionally open with checking in, photo tagging, geo-location on photos and posts, and more (like foursquare). As an exercise to prove this point I recently showed someone how easy it was to find out information on a random person. We picked someone out and after 10 minutes we had their home address, phone number, relationship status, age, and because of checking in we knew where the person was as well as the name of their friends, hobbies and much more (including some interesting pictures).

Now this was a public profile, and because of this the target did not know what we were researching them. Now someone has taken this concept and turned it into an app with the expressed purpose of hooking up. The app is called Girls Around Me and it uses public profiles to find and locate girls near the user. It is a stalker’s dream application. When it was released the developers actually had API access to the Foursquare location tool. Thankfully Foursquare has blocked access now, but that still leaves checking in. The write up for the App says things like;

"The Girls Around Me is a revolutionary new city scanner app than turns your town into a dating paradise!"

"Use it to see where hot girls and guys are hanging out in your area, view their photos and make contact!"

"In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand? Girls Around Me puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them..."

"Girls Around Me combines the best features of Facebook, Google Maps and foursquare! And with millions of chicks checking in daily, there’s never been a better time to be on the hunt…"

Like we said it is a stalker’s dream application; in fact we are schocked with Apple’s puritanical streak that the app even got approved. As with the exercise we showed above the targets do not know they are being stalked. They have no idea that the application serves up a wealth of information to the user including pictures, age, relationship status, access to your Facebook profile and more.

Facebook seems to feel that this issue is not their problem and has made no comment about the app or the danger it presents to millions of women (including children). It raises serious concerns about how easy it is to tie into the Facebook API, how much information Facebook keeps and shares as well some of the new initiatives that Facebook is pushing, like auto-check ins, auto tagging, and worse. Now here is the really bad news; many mobile devices are requiring location services to be on to function correctly. These are services that we all have come to rely on like the weather apps I recently noticed that with the location services off on my EVO 3D the weather widget would no longer update automatically even for manually entered locations. I had to manually refresh it.

We have said it before and will say it again, with the way we are hurtling into the lifestyle of always being connected we are making it easier to be tracked, stalked and found with some of the most simple methods that I have seen. It is something that most people do not even seem to be aware of and as more parents are letting their kids get on the internet they are passing this ignorance on to them and leaving them open and vulnerable to harm. You would have thought that we would learn after the fiasco that found 90,000 sexual predators on MySpace and 30,000 on Facebook. I guess it takes something outrageous and dangerous like Girls Around Me to raise awareness in people these days.

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Last modified on Saturday, 31 March 2012 08:41

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