We are living in historical times, and the everyday for us will be in history books for generations to come. Coronavirus has already made many lasting impacts on how we view the world around us. In an attempt to understand how this pandemic is spreading, and lower the amount of people that are exposed to it daily, many people have attempted to begin developing apps that will track Covid-19. The apps are meant to alert the user if they come into close proximity to someone who has tested positive for the virus, ensuring that they are notified, and therefore, can avoid exposure as well as possible. Tracking those who have it and who they come into contact with is very important in seeing the spread as well as decreasing it. These apps are designed to be a very efficient way of doing so, that allows users to see exactly what risks they are taking and when they should avoid those risks. “Many of these apps rely on Bluetooth technology to send out notifications when two smartphone owners approach each other. Some of them even track location data through GPS. But early in the development of such platforms, campaigners flagged major concerns over how they would approach privacy” An app like this is made to track people and have access to who they are around at all times. This is clearly a concern of privacy, and a lot of users voiced concerns about being tracked everywhere they go, as well as the access of Bluetooth to other’s devices. One way that many of the companies developing these apps attempted to decrease the risks was “to introduce a “decentralized” framework for contact-tracing apps that would aim to both protect user data and ensure they still work once people start traveling abroad” (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/03/why-coronavirus-contact-tracing-apps-havent-been-a-game-changer.html).
Another concern of these apps is the possibility of hackers. Even though these apps are mostly just beginning, several all over the world have already seen leaks of private information and hackers. “In the Qatar Covid-19 app, researchers found a vulnerability that would’ve let hackers obtain more than a million people’s national ID numbers and health status. In India’s app, a researcher discovered a security gap that allowed him to determine who was sick in individual homes. And researchers uncovered seven security flaws in a pilot app in the U.K. The U.S. is just starting to use these contact tracing apps — which track who an infected person may have had contact with — but at least one app has already experienced a data leak. North Dakota conceded in May that its smartphone app, Care19, had been sending users’ location data to the digital marketing service Foursquare” (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/06/coronavirus-tracking-app-hacking-348601). This is very concerning for the users of these apps, and without further privacy and safety, these apps will not be used by the majority of people. Due to the security concerns, these apps are already seeing a much smaller number of downloads than originally predicted. “Singapore, which was seen as a pioneer in the development of tracing technology, has seen about 2.1 million downloads of its app. This translates to about 37% of the country’s population — still well below the recommended 60% threshold. And although digital tracking measures seem to have helped in countries like China and South Korea, critics say that these technologies came at the expense of privacy” (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/03/why-coronavirus-contact-tracing-apps-havent-been-a-game-changer.html). Many of the countries and companies that have developed and released these apps have had to go back and change them dramatically in order to address the security concerns that arose. Private information such as health status, location, names, and national IDS are all on these apps, making them large targets for those who would wish to steal that information.

Coronavirus has had a large impact on the way we view technology and its relation to our everyday lives. Due to this, the idea of an app that can track the spread of the pandemic provides a very interesting and desirable look into the future. However, this is only if the serious security concerns that have arisen due to these apps is addressed first. With concern for personal data, connection to other’s devices, and hackers, these apps are far too unsecure to make the impact they were hoping to. Due to these security concerns, not nearly as many people as expected downloaded them, making a true tracking impossible. These apps need quite a bit of work before they can be the game changing force they were meant to be. As companies strive to make them better, perhaps a digital virus tracking future is not as far off as it may seem.

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