Since its launch, Pokémon Go has been making headlines due to its sheer popularity across the world where it is played. On the controversial side of things, the smartphone app has also made headlines for the various accidents it has indirectly caused.
There is more to the game/app than just a popular diversion, and an insurer believes that Pokémon Go is potentially a major cyber risk for its users.
Northbridge Insurance said in a blog post Monday that the app carries the risk of exposing confidential information.
“Augmented reality games usually require your GPS location and a data connection (either WiFi or cellular data), which means giving access to the app developer to track your whereabouts,” the insurer remarked. “By playing augmented reality games such as Pokémon Go, you may be allowing the sharing of metadata-such as details on who you are, where you live, locations you frequent, who you associate with, time spent in each locations, and so on.”
“If you play such games on a mobile device that you also use for business, then that risk is heightened by the possible exposure to confidential company information,” the insurer warned.
To play Pokémon Go, players must first sign up for an account. Players have a choice to either register through the “Pokémon Trainer Club,” or to use their Google accounts. Previously, it was discovered that use of the app through a Google account allowed Pokémon Go developer Niantic access to the user’s own emails and search history, among other Google-specific sensitive information. Niantic, together with The Pokémon Company, released a joint statement not long after the loophole was discovered, ensuring players that it was not their intention to pry into their account information.
Since then, Niantic has requested Google to allow only basic profile information (user ID, email address) to be accessed. Although the developer fixed the exposure on its part, there could still be others who would find ways to exploit the app and its users.
Northbridge further noted that as more augmented reality games follow in Pokémon Go’s wake, it is up to players and property owners to assess their personal risks and to take safety measures to reduce their liability exposure.
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