Yo - an app so deceptively simple it is regularly dismissed as stupid or pointless - has been headlining the web’s tech news pages recently. For those that aren’t up to speed, Yo allows you to send a one-word message to friends who you have added on Yo. (Guess what that one word message is!)
It’s a big deal in the news because it’s made some people with big wallets sit up straight and throw money at it.
We’re here to say keep an eye on who has access to your data.
We’re human too, we love keeping up with the latest tech and our office gets some really good opportunities to see what people are making and using. Because of this we also know that the first wave can have a few bugs. We know that these sorts of apps can have teething issues, and that when an app blows up like this, it attracts a different sort of attention as well.
Within days of Yo being at the centre of a media storm, Yo was hacked. The hackers had access to the cell number of any user, and could spoof ‘Yo’s to anyone from anyone.
While Yo pretty quickly sorted the security issues out, and they’re back up and running today, it’s a pretty good example of the dangers of being an early adopter.
Yo is a social network, and while its functionality is pretty limited compared to the big ones like Facebook and Twitter, it is still built to connect people with other people. That usually means connecting personal information with other personal information, drawing links between people and needing access to things like contact lists.
You need to be wary about the sorts of company your phone keeps. Not all hacks will be as benign as the Yo one, so it pays to keep stock of how far flung all your personal information is.
Always check the permissions a new app is asking for, and decide whether you feel the information you’re providing is worth it for the service the app is giving back to you. It’s been said a lot, but Blue_Beetle’s quote "if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold" is a good one to keep in mind.
Look out for our guidance for app developers coming out in mid-July.