A lot of people cry foul always when they think that their smartphones have been hacked yet it’s them that provide the information willingly online, there are certain services that we provide all of our information not knowing what will happen to that information, today we are going to put our focus on a service/application called Truecaller.
Truecaller is an application/service, that can tell name and any other available information of the phone number even if you don’t have that saved in your contact list, the application is a Swedish owned company, True Software Scandinavia AB, which reports that it now has over 3 billion telephone numbers in its database. The application was launched in 2009, 1 July and it runs on Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Series 40, Symbian, Tizen, BlackBerry 10, and Windows Phone Platform.
You might wonder where does TrueCaller gets all those phone numbers, well the concept behind Truecaller is easy to understand, the service gets all its information from its users, how? If your name is in the Truecaller database, it’s because at least one of your friends installed Truecaller and shared your details with the app. When you install a Truecaller application on your phone, it simply uploads each and every contact and information linked to it from your phone’s contact list to its servers.
“Permission-based” crowdsourcing, this is a process where anyone who installs their app also has an option that gives the Truecaller app the option to upload their entire address book to the Truecaller database. Apparently, few people don’t know about this all we just do is add the phone number, click yes to everything and start using the service, if you want to search for any contact from Truecallers web interface you’ll need to sign in using either Facebook, Yahoo, Google or Microsoft accounts. Almost every person has shared his/her phone number on social profiles.
“There are several different ways that Truecaller gets its data. On a daily basis, there are over 350.000 new registered users that come [sic] onboard on Truecaller that creates [sic] a profile. We have a very large user base that helps with contributing information by tagging and suggesting a name to numbers, but also spam reporting. We have created a service that is built by a vibrant community that contributes and adds information so the rest of the community can benefit from it,” explained Ted Nelson, Chief Commercial Officer at Truecaller, to iAfrikan.
Reports say that Truecaller was hacked by the group named as Syrian electronic army and they were able to steal 7 databases which had access tokens of millions of facebook, twitter, Linkedin and Gmail accounts. Using which they could post on the profiles of users and access the information they wanted without them noticing it. Size of the databases they stole was 564 GB. Now you wonder what all that can be used for?
Now if you read the policy of Truecaller It gets even more interesting when you read section 1.2, which further emphasizes that Truecaller will have “access to device address book”:
What should I do?
Best way to be safe online and keep your information private is by not sharing too much about you to any online service. Think of the information you share online is public because sooner or later it is available to the public.
You can also remove your number from Truecaller if it is listed there, you can simply un-list it but after un-listing your number you won’t be able to use the application/service.