July 11, 2023

Is Your Online Shopping Putting Your Privacy at Risk?

Is Your Online Shopping Putting Your Privacy at Risk?

5 Tips to Stay Secure While Stocking Up

Shopping online is a convenient and efficient way to knock out needed purchases without disrupting your busy schedule. Many retailers even make returns and exchanges easier than they’ve ever been. But with the rise of online shopping apps and websites, could your private data be more at risk than ever before? Tech Eagles wants to make sure that you are aware of the risk to your personal privacy.

It’s important to remember that not all apps are equal. Most people don’t take the time to read over each app’s privacy policy to understand how their data might be used. Even the most popular apps collect more data from your personal or business phone than you might realize. When your data is at risk, your privacy is at risk.

Security experts have recently discovered that a popular shopping app was spying on their users by tracking their copy-and-paste activity, screenshots, GPS locations, and keystrokes. The widely-used shopping app, Shein, is reported to have millions of users. According to the researcher’s reports, some of the sensitive information the app was tracking through user activity included copying things like passwords and credit card numbers onto their clipboard, which Shein could then have easy access to. In addition to that, it was found that Shein was also tracking the GPS locations of its users, and therefore, could track their movements.

Shein’s developers defend the actions as “optimizing user experience”; this is a cryptic, yet all too common explanation and many app developers do the same thing. While many claim the data collection is for internal use within their company, privacy experts have raised the red flags on their collection practices.

Questions Regarding Data Collection Practice

While many well-known apps utilize user’s data for advertising purposes, it’s all too common for most users to be unaware of the extent and use of their personal information by these companies. A rising star in the online shopping community, Temu, has become popular since their 2023 Superbowl Ad. Yet this app also has questionable practices with their users’ data. Temu knowingly collects their user’s name, address, phone number, birthday, social media profiles, your browsing data, in addition to user’s phone system, version, and IP address.

How Can You Protect Your Privacy While Enjoying the Convenience of Online Shopping?

1. Read the Privacy Policy

Admittedly, it takes effort and time on your part when all you want to do is explore and enjoy the app. Trust us, taking the time is worth it to ensure that you are fully aware of what information you are handing over to these companies. Read their privacy policy before you even download the app. You can even search through the policy, looking for keywords such as “your data” and “collect” to speed the process up. Do as much research on the app as you can; don’t take it on blind faith because someone you know and trust uses it. If you take this important step before you download a new app, you might find that you choose not to download it at all.

2. Turn Off All Sharing Features You Don’t Want Accessed

Simply by going into your phone’s settings, you should easily be able to see what features the app has access to. Here, you can restrict or remove said feature access such as location, contacts, photos, camera, etc. Tech Eagles recommends that you restrict as much data sharing as you possibly can with all your apps. It’s simply not worth the risk.

3. Get Rid of Old Apps

This is a common mistake. Many people don’t think to get rid of apps they no longer use regularly, whether they forget about it or suspect there may be some future use for the app. Our pro tip is: if you’re not using it on a regular basis, remove it from your phone. Failing to do this greatly puts yourself at risk, as many apps still collect your private data such as web browsing and GPS tracking, even when the app is not in use.

4. Shop the Old-Fashioned Way

Okay, maybe not the OLD, old-fashioned way like riding your horse and cart down to the local market. But do consider shopping on the company’s website instead of on the app. In doing so, the company only has access to the data you provide in the fields they request, and you can have the peace of mind knowing that there is no malicious data collection activity going on that you’re unaware of.

5.  Keep Your Phone’s Version Up-To-Date

Most people use their cellphones way more than a desktop or laptop. However, cellphones tend to lack the same kind of security that you can find available in a computer. Be sure to update your operating system to the latest software version available.


Have any questions on how you can protect your small business and employees from rascally data pirates? Call Tech Eagles today!