WORRYING new report suggests that a dying smartphone could be allowing in outside sources.
Letting your phone battery run out could be causing more damage than you think, according to new research which says doing so could pose a major security risk.
A study by Princeton University security researchers has found that many of the world’s leading websites are able to track users by monitoring the battery status of their smartphone or tablet.
This means that millions of users could be at risk from having their web surfing habits unconsciously monitored.
The research, which looked at the top one million sites on the web, found that a number of them are using a software feature known as Battery Status API.
Normally, this is used to provide users with a ‘low-power’ version of their site or app when the device’s battery is running low, allowing the site to view a device’s current battery level, as well as the time this will take to discharge and who long it will take to charge when connected to a power source.
But the report found that the Battery Status API also allows the websites to access the user’s local IP address, meaning it will be able to combine this with other tracking data to see which other websites they have visited.
It was first released last year in HTML 5, the latest generation of web programming, and is already included in browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, meaning millions of users could have been tracked without their knowledge.
The researchers say that beyond being able to identify and track users, the API could also be used by retailers and online businesses to track consumer shopping habits when their device is about to die.
Other recent findings found that when a battery is running low, shoppers may be more prone to impulsively buying a product before their device dies and they lose a special offer.
Back in May, Uber revealed that its research found that customers whose device is about to die are far more likely to accept more expensive ‘surge pricing’ in a drive to get home.
The warning comes days after another leading security researcher lifted the lid on why a phone’s displayed battery level may not be telling the whole truth.
The report by researcher Mark Smirniotis reveals that a device is often unable to show a truly accurate representation of its power.
The amount of battery life displayed on your smartphone is in fact an estimation of how long it will last at its current state, meaning that the figure may fluctuate if you switch from relative inactivity to running lots of apps.
This means that shutting down apps or services running in the background, or switching on Aeroplane mode, will always help to extend your device’s battery life no matter what the current charge level.