Culture

New Security Risk for Israeli Army: Pokémon Go

(Photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/AFLO) (via AP)

Be careful out there.

The Israeli military is warning its soldiers about a new threat: the widely popular mobile phone game “Pokemon Go.”

The army said Monday it has banned its forces from playing the game on Israeli military bases due to security concerns. In a directive to soldiers and officers, the army warned the game activates cell phone cameras and location services, and could leak sensitive information like army base locations and photographs of the bases.

The military is also concerned that soldiers could download a fake application that impersonates “Pokemon Go” but could leak information from soldiers’ phones.

“Pokemon GO” players roam streets and buildings holding up their mobile phones and following a digital map to catch creatures that appear on the screen.

Israeli civilians are also being warned about the perils of chasing Pikachu and other digital critters in the game.

There have also been warnings about sun exposure, tripping, walking into traffic and just general inappropriateness.

Add to that the fact that early users may have given up all of their Google information and it’s a wonder this thing ever got off the ground.

At the very least, the game’s instant pop culture phenomenon status had provided some cautionary lessons about tech fun that will hopefully be heeded going forward.

Smartphone apps are the Wild, Wild West for hackers. Apps do go through rigorous screenings before being approved but the connected nature of the games still leaves users exposed for all kinds of shenanigans. Just a few minutes of research can point you to several apps that will screen new apps for your iPhone or Android. Yes, you have to download an app to make sure your apps are safe, but there is plenty of good info out there for both platforms. One little malware hiccup can cause all kinds of troubles on your phone, from performance problems to data exposure.

It’s probably a safe bet to say that “sensitive Pokémon-realated security leaks” weren’t on the Israeli Army’s list of concerns at the beginning of 2016, but what has this year been for if not making everything weirder.

Just figure out how private you want to be. If, like me, you’re a person who tries out a variety of apps, be diligent and make sure you aren’t working at cross-purposes with yourself.