With a public API, Venmo’s default privacy settings expose private user data

zelle big banks venmo

Those who use Venmo as their primary money-transfer app, may want to consider changing their privacy settings. After a security researcher analyzed over 200 million Venmo transactions back in 2017, it became clear the app exposes a large amount of private details about its users, The Guardian reports.

The project was created by Berlin-based researcher Hang Do Thi Duc, who highlighted all of her findings via a website called “Public by Default.” On the site, she explains how she was able to learn an ‘alarming amount’ about Venmo’s users by pulling a total of 207,984, 218 transactions all via the app’s public application programming interface (API) — which can be accessed by anyone.

Even though Venmo does allow you to choose what is or isn’t public, all transactions are public by default — which some users may not realize. To protect your information, you can choose to make any future transactions visible by only the sender and recipient — that way, they won’t show up on the public feed. There’s also the option to make all past transactions private as well.

Using the logged data via the API, Do Thi Duc was able to piece together the lives of five different Venmo users identified as: ‘The Cannabis Retailer,’ ‘The Corn Dealer,’ ‘The Lovers,’ ‘The YOLOist,’ and ‘The All Americans.’ Each one includes stories of who they are with specific details she was able to find simply by sifting through their transactions — including exactly how many transactions were carried out by each person in 2017. While she was also able to see full names, she did not publish that identifying information.

“This Venmo user — a young woman with a Greek last name — had 2,033 transactions in eight months’ time. And through her Venmo transactions emerges an unhealthy portrait. She loves Coca Cola (280 transactions) and pizza (209 transactions), and often goes for coffee with the same three friends. She also likes to eat a lot of sweets, especially donuts,” she writes about ‘The YOLOist.’

On the site, Do Thi Duc explains the project will hopefully shed light on the fact that companies should be putting user data protection first. While Venmo’s public feed seems harmless — and even a source of entertainment for some — we don’t truly realize how much information we’re sharing. This includes your first and last name, transaction history, and blatantly revealing where and with whom you’re spending your time by listing who it is the money is going to.


Worried about how FaceApp is using your photos? Here’s how to delete your data

Are you concerned about your privacy with FaceApp? If so, you might want to delete your data from the app. The app has come under fire for its terms of service and privacy policies that it can use your face photos in any way it wants to. 

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they accumulate files and misconfigure settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Movies & TV

Jon Favreau already working on The Mandalorian's second season for Disney+

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.

St. Paul, Minnesota, is the latest U.S. city to access Verizon's 5G network

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. Its mobile 5G network is now available in select areas of several cities such as Chicago and Denver. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network.

Renders suggest the Huawei Mate 30 Pro may have a special cinematic camera lens

The Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro may join the Mate X folding phone as the company's star products for late 2019. This is what we know about the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro so far.

AT&T accused of selling customers’ location data to bounty hunters and stalkers

AT&T was hit with a lawsuit Tuesday accusing it of selling customers’ real-time location data to third parties like credit agencies and bail guarantors, along with bounty hunters and stalkers, without having customer consent. 

A.I. photo filters use neural networks to make photos look like Picassos

Artificial Intelligence apps put a novel spin on social network-style photo filters. Instead of just overlaying an effect, these photo filters use machine learning and neural networks to transform an image into a predetermined style.

Samsung’s latest RAM chips can move data superfast on your next-gen smartphone

Samsung just announced its fastest RAM chips yet, boasting 44 GB/s transfer speeds with LPDDR5 technology on a 10-nm process. These 12-gigabyte monsters are meant to take 5G and A.I. to the next level on your next-gen smartphone.

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.

FCC filing reveals impressive specs for luxury Movado Connect 2.0 smartwatch

It's been a while since we saw a smartwatch from luxury watchmaker Movado, but that drought may be over soon. FCC filings for the Movado Connect 2.0 have surfaced, and they paint a picture of a high-spec smartwatch.

Amazon Prime Day deals are ending, but you can still get great bargains

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the Prime Day deals are over. With deals from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon still going on, this massive shopping event is continuing on through the week.

T-Mobile wants to give you a free smartphone when you add a line

Did someone say free smartphones? T-Mobile is offering free smartphones from a select range of affordable phones when a new line is opened on its $40 per month per line Magenta tier and above.

Get your game on with the best controllers for Android smartphones

If you're looking to do some serious gaming on an Android device, you're going to need a gamepad. Here are the best controllers for Android games on smartphones and tablets, with rechargeable and wireless options.