Is this popular app letting hackers stalk you?
Have you used Waze? It's a fun and innovative way to cut down your drive time, whether you're running late for work or you're scrambling to get to a concert before it starts.
Waze, which is owned by Google, is essentially a map app combined with a social media app. People just like you, who are driving the same roads as you, share local driving conditions.
You just keep the app open and drive. Other Waze users can see your car icon if you're driving along just fine or stuck in traffic. Or, you can add in road conditions to alert other drivers, if you want.
If there's a crash up ahead, for example, you can see other Waze drivers suggesting you take a different route. It's really handy. (See photo below.)
However, Waze is embroiled in a controversy right now that's scary for you or anyone you know who uses Waze.
It turns out, a reporter for Fusion recently discovered that if she told people where she lived and worked, they could find her specific location on Waze, and then follow her. The problem is, stalkers or anyone else who wants to follow you, can set up their computer system to retrieve your Waze information before it goes back to Waze's servers, the reporter said.
Those hackers appear on Waze as "ghost cars," cars that seem to be there, but aren't.
Waze executives say their car icons are meant to provide comfort to other drivers. As they explain on the Privacy and Waze blog: "When Waze first entered new countries, marking community members on the map was a way to verify to newbies that the community was thriving locally and that traffic information was correct."
Good news: Waze went on to say "A stranger cannot search for or find your Wazer on the map and follow you."
They added that, "We appreciate the researchers bringing this to our attention and have implemented safeguards in the past 24 hours to address the vulnerability and prevent ghost riders from affecting system behavior and performing similar tracking activities."