What is a Geofence?
The Collins English dictionary describes it as
“a boundary established around a geographical area in an information system, so that a particular action is triggered when an electronic device enters (or exits) the designated area”
I prefer to think of it more like an invisibility shield.
So what does it do?
Using your smartphone, IoT devices and some nifty software such as IFTTT, you can program your house to automate certain tasks when you leave or arrive home. So you can (come winter) set your heating to turn off or down whenever you leave home. Or you can program it to get the kettle on when you park up (just remember to fill the kettle with water before your leave).
The problem is, as humans, we have become obsessed with data. We give it out freely, and we collect it by the gigabyte.
The bigger problem is when we don’t even realise we’re giving the data out. I’m not talking about being hacked.
At Consultants Like Us, you will often hear us discussing the virtues of Information Security, particularly where social media is concerned. But one area we haven’t discussed (until now) is the use of fitness apps.
The amount of being collected when those applications are running would make an F1 team proud. Everything from Heart rate, effort, cadence, start date, and duration is all recorded by the various devices we wear and recorded in our favourite app.
But have we created an unhealthy addiction to being healthy (hmm! That sound like a great title for a blog)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for using these apps. I have a few myself but consider this…How many of us lace up our running shoes (or, in my case, dial in my cycle shoes), step outside our front door, start our favourite fitness app and head on out into the big wide world? When we get back home, we stop the recording, and within minutes all this data is available for all to see. Data such as start location, end location and the route are all recorded and published on your fitness profile for all your innocent followers to view and admire in awe.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Yes, all this data is published for all to see. So if you regularly start your fitness activity from outside your front door, then it won’t take much intelligence to work out where you live. And if you do have an unhealthy approach to your health, then a little more digging would also reveal the “best” times when you’re not at home and how long you won’t be there.
So you’ll be please to know I’m not going to tell you not to record your activity. After all, it didn’t happen if you didn’t record it, right?
Most of these apps now allow you to geofence your home and hide it from your data feed. Strava, one of the leading apps, has taken it a step further and can now hide your start & end point regardless of where you started or ended. So, although I may be able to work out when you’re not at home, I no longer know where you live.
Try it. Take one step closer to data obscurity. You can thank me later.
Your friendly neighbourhood Cyberman,