I was looking at all of the apps I have installed on my phone this morning thinking about which ones actually provide me with value versus those which I've allowed to pry their way in to my personal data.
And it's not really a secret that most of the apps out there exist primarily to harvest personal data from the end users. There's not really much I can do to change that, but there's nothing stopping me from trying to have a little fun with it.
So let's follow the journey of what happens to my data when I install a new app. First thing the app will probably do is send back whatever info can gather about me back to the mothership. Even before I give it a name or any login info, it's already starting to gather info about my device. So now they know if I've got an Android or iOS phone. Probably my network carrier. IP address. And most likely my device name.
This information gets sent back the app developers, who can choose to do with it what they want. Maybe they're using it to get to know their customers to develop better app experiences. Maybe they're building a dossier to target ads for you. Maybe they're selling it to the highest bidder.
But they're collecting it. And because they're collecting it, somebody is going to want a way to look at it. And it's almost always an internal web app. And there's about a 98 percent chance that it's referred to as "the portal." App companies are notoriously predictable on that one.
The Portal is an internal tool used primarily by people in customer service, operations and/or business analysts. And as an internal tool, it doesn't directly generate revenue. Which is to say is was built as hastily as possible and is never updated. If new features or fixes are needed, they're tacked on with even more haste.
So I changed the device name of my iPhone to
<script>alert("portal err. alert Matt")</script>
If the app developer is US based, they're pretty much guaranteed to either have or have had a Matt on the development team at some point. Feel free to change the message based on geography.
Note: My iPhone was closer when I was playing with this. I assume Android allows similar names. I'll try to follow up and then and post an update later.