What’s happening behind our screens?

Uzor Awuzie, Student Life Editor

Counselor Joyce Davis recalls the time she got messages from friends who claimed they received a friend request from her on facebook, even though they were already friends.

“It’s a little disturbing to think that somebody can go in and just take your stuff and then use it,” Davis said, “but I guess it’s not scary enough to stop using it. But there are things that I will not do.”

Scroll through Instagram. Take a photo. Upload it. Forget about it. Within the few minutes that the process took, Instagram had the ability to access both the front and the back camera, record you and take pictures and videos of yourself and your surroundings.

Students are generally unaware of how their privacy is compromised online, but privacy infringement recently came into popular conscience.

Ironically, the topic has reached younger audience levels through social media. For example, when it became popular to cover up your camera with tape, it was taken both seriously and as a joke. Memes spread around about a so-called “FBI agent” that was assigned to you watching you throughout your life. All jokes aside, a lot of information that intruders can obtain from our phones can be uploaded to the internet and used without our knowledge. The unauthorized use of data has been defended by multiple experts. Fastlane is a tool for iOS and Android developers to automate tedious tasks to help release an application.

According to the founder Feliz Krause, as soon as you authorize any social media app to use your camera, microphone, or photos, you’re granting them access to use your pictures, take your videos and spy on you.

Government security agencies can also access devices through your camera and microphones. For example, a National Security Agency program called Optic Nerves captures webcam images every five minutes from Yahoo users’ video chats and then stores them for future use.

This shows how the government also has access to devices that you use in your everyday life. Agencies like the NSA can also use more secretive ways to read your messages, capture pictures of you, tune in to your phone calls, stream videos of you, read your emails, and more at any time.

Hackers are known for threats to our devices, and they still successfully manage to access our data through apps, PDF files, multimedia messages, and even emojis.

Over 60 percent of users use an application called Metasploit from hacking platform Kali, a common hacking website. The program can then use an Adobe Reader 9 exploit to open a listener, such as an application called Rootkit, on the user’s computer. All it takes for hackers to listen in is for the user to open up an alternated PDF file. Through hacking websites, people have an easier ways of entry to websites, social media, and information on our devices. That’s why that pesky ad on the side of your screen that “guarantees” you a free iPhone X should be ignored at all costs. For people like Davis who have experienced on their device, it raises awareness on being safe when you go online.

“So because of those things, I now have a more heightened awareness,” Davis said. “So when the Facebook stuff came through, I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m just going to let everybody know: don’t accept anything from me.”