SAN FRANCISCO – August 5, 2019 - The Guardian Firewall team has discovered that a growing number of iOS apps covertly collect precise location histories from tens of millions of mobile devices, using packaged code provided by data monetization firms. In many cases, the packaged tracking code runs at all times, constantly sending user GPS coordinates and other information. Inadequately policed, the mobile universe has become a “wild west” of unauthorized surveillance and surreptitious spying. To get a sense of the breadth and depth of this immense privacy problem for mobile phone users, see their report at https://guardianapp.com/research/ios-app-location-report-sep2018/, the first of many to be posted free as a public service.
Guardian Firewall is the first firewall for iOS that solves this problem. It blocks those trying to track you, and tells you who they are as well as what types of data they likely tried to collect. A simple and intuitive user interface masks the depth of the firewall’s analytical sophistication and protective power.
Guardian Firewall for iOS was introduced June 11 of this year for limited trial with this detailed blog post that takes careful pains to explain the problem, the product, and the company: https://guardianapp.com/blog/2019/06/introducing-guardian-firewall-for-ios/.
Now, Guardian Firewall first public release is available today in the App Store for $9.99 a month, with a one-year option, and limited lite option available. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/guardian-firewall-vpn/id1363796315. Guardian Firewall is designed with a no sign-up process, and no personal information is required to purchase the app. Guardian needs only to know if the user sent payment.
The Guardian company is led by co-founders Will Strafach, Chief Executive Officer, and Joshua Hill, Chief Research Officer, both legendary hackers famous for creating jailbreaks in the early iPhone days. (A “jailbreak” in this case involves hacking into a part of the secured iOS system that is “jailed” off, to allow users more freedom with their Apple devices.) Strafach and Hill are bringing that same capability – this time at a consumer level and following all Apple guidelines and properly using the VPN API – to give users freedom to control what data leaves their phone and to whom it is going.
The Guardian Firewall app has been designed to simply act as a client for remotely hosted VPN servers running custom fully-featured firewall software. Given the nature of this design, it is important to understand that this process involves sending users’ Internet data through Guardian’s secure firewall servers. To mitigate any privacy concerns associated with handling potentially personal internet data, you don’t need to sign up for Guardian Firewall nor provide any information about yourself whatsoever. A simple tap on the G-Shield button is enough to start protecting your digital privacy.
“Unlike pretty much every other company in the world, we don’t want to collect data that we don’t need,” said Strafach. “We consider data a liability. Our rule is to collect as little as possible. We don’t even use Google Analytics or any kind of tracking in the app — or even on our site, out of principle.”
“It’s a very hard line,” he added. “We would shut down before we had to face that kind of decision. It would go against our core principles. We don’t even want to say, ‘You can trust us not to do anything,’ because we don’t want to be in a position that we have to be trusted. We just want to run our business the old-fashioned way. We want people to pay for our product and we provide them the service. We don’t want their data to send them marketing or anything else.”
Guardian Labs, the research side of Guardian, led by CRO Hill, is focused on the future – creating and delivering custom, hacker-designed hardware and software tools to enhance Guardian’s offerings as well as to harden the underlying infrastructure. Stay tuned for further exciting releases.
Steve Russell’s new fund Prism is leading the round for Guardian. Russell was an early investor in, among others, OpenDNS, Ring, and Uber. “These guys are super-genius iconoclasts who have found a way to build a business from their fight for privacy,” said Russell. “People desperately need real solutions for mobile security and privacy, and Guardian Firewall is truly the first of its kind. We’ve created an easy-to-use security app that puts users in control of their data. The last company I did that for was OpenDNS and they were bought for nearly $650 million by Cisco. I believe that Guardian has the potential to be worth much more.”
Guardian Firewall is building the world’s most powerful tools to allow anyone with an electronic device to take back control of their digital privacy. Founded on the principle of making surveillance capitalism an untenable business model, Guardian identifies threats before they impact devices and exposes every bad actor attempting to do so. Guardian has found that many popular apps collect your data without your knowledge and has been successful in removing the tracking capabilities from these apps. Guardian believes user data is a liability and commits to never tracking users or storing their data. For more information, go to https://guardianapp.com, https://www.twitter.com/guardianiosapp https://www.facebook.com/guardianiosapp, https://www.instagram.com/guardianiosapp
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