Facebook offered a convenient proprietary library for building mobile apps, which also sent personal data to Facebook. Lots of companies built apps that way and released them, apparently not realizing that all the personal data they collected would go to Facebook as well. It shows that no one can trust a nonfree program, not even the developers of other nonfree programs. The AppCensus database gives information on how Android apps use and misuse users' personal data. Collecting hardware identifiers is in apparent violation of Google's policies. But it seems that Google wasn't aware of it, and, once informed, was in no hurry to take action.
This proves that the policies of a development platform are ineffective at preventing nonfree software developers from including malware in their programs. Many nonfree apps have a surveillance feature for recording all the users' actions in interacting with the app. Other technical flaws were found as well. Moreover, a previous investigation had found that half of the top 10 gratis VPN apps have lousy privacy policies. The Weather Channel app stored users' locations to the company's server.
The company is being sued, demanding that it notify the users of what it will do with the data. We think that lawsuit is about a side issue. What the company does with the data is a secondary issue. The principal wrong here is that the company gets that data at all. Other weather apps , including Accuweather and WeatherBug, are tracking people's locations.
Some of them send Facebook detailed information about the user's activities in the app; others only say that the user is using that app, but that alone is often quite informative. Some Android apps track the phones of users that have deleted them. The Spanish football streaming app tracks the user's movements and listens through the microphone.
We expect it implements DRM, too—that there is no way to save a recording. But we can't be sure from the article. If you learn to care much less about sports, you will benefit in many ways. This is one more. Furthermore, they could detect only some methods of snooping, in these proprietary apps whose source code they cannot look at. The other apps might be snooping in other ways.
This is evidence that proprietary apps generally work against their users. To protect their privacy and freedom, Android users need to get rid of the proprietary software—both proprietary Android by switching to Replicant , and the proprietary apps by getting apps from the free software only F-Droid store that prominently warns the user if an app contains anti-features.
Grindr collects information about which users are HIV-positive, then provides the information to companies. Grindr should not have so much information about its users. It could be designed so that users communicate such info to each other but not to the server's database. The moviepass app and dis-service spy on users even more than users expected. It records where they travel before and after going to a movie. Tracking software in popular Android apps is pervasive and sometimes very clever. Some trackers can follow a user's movements around a physical store by noticing WiFi networks.
AI-powered driving apps can track your every move. The Sarahah app uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in user's address book to developer's server. Google did not intend to make these apps spy; on the contrary, it worked in various ways to prevent that, and deleted these apps after discovering what they did.
It's technically possible, but researchers and security experts say the answer is likely no
So we cannot blame Google specifically for the snooping of these apps. On the other hand, Google redistributes nonfree Android apps, and therefore shares in the responsibility for the injustice of their being nonfree. It also distributes its own nonfree apps, such as Google Play, which are malicious.
Could Google have done a better job of preventing apps from cheating?
There is no systematic way for Google, or Android users, to inspect executable proprietary apps to see what they do. Google could demand the source code for these apps, and study the source code somehow to determine whether they mistreat users in various ways. If it did a good job of this, it could more or less prevent such snooping, except when the app developers are clever enough to outsmart the checking. But since Google itself develops malicious apps, we cannot trust Google to protect us. We must demand release of source code to the public, so we can depend on each other.
Apps for BART snoop on users. A study found Android apps that track users by listening to ultrasound from beacons placed in stores or played by TV programs. Faceapp appears to do lots of surveillance, judging by how much access it demands to personal data in the device. Users are suing Bose for distributing a spyware app for its headphones. Specifically, the app would record the names of the audio files users listen to along with the headphone's unique serial number.
The suit accuses that this was done without the users' consent. If the fine print of the app said that users gave consent for this, would that make it acceptable? No way! It should be flat out illegal to design the app to snoop at all. Pairs of Android apps can collude to transmit users' personal data to servers. A study found tens of thousands of pairs that collude.
Over 1, Android apps were found to steal your data. Here's what you can do - CNET
Verizon announced an opt-in proprietary search app that it will pre-install on some of its phones. The app will give Verizon the same information about the users' searches that Google normally gets when they use its search engine. Currently, the app is being pre-installed on only one phone , and the user must explicitly opt-in before the app takes effect. The Meitu photo-editing app sends user data to a Chinese company. The Uber app tracks clients' movements before and after the ride. Following is a non-exhaustive list, taken from the research paper, of some proprietary VPN apps that track users and infringe their privacy:.
Some portable phones are sold with spyware sending lots of data to China. Facebook's new Magic Photo app scans your mobile phone's photo collections for known faces , and suggests you to share the picture you take according to who is in the frame. This spyware feature seems to require online access to some known-faces database, which means the pictures are likely to be sent across the wire to Facebook's servers and face-recognition algorithms.
But have you heard of Leagoo? Most people have not. I wouldn't trust phones made by any of these companies — for all I know, they could be sending my personal information back to a server in China, or contain glaring security flaws that could let an attacker easily hijack the phone or add malware. We've reviewed a couple of its phones and liked them. But most of BLU's phones are actually rebadged versions of phones made by Gionee, which is one of the bigger Chinese device makers you've never heard of.
BLU argued against Amazon suspending sales of its devices earlier this week, which was done due to spyware concerns. It's debatable whether collecting and transmitting your phone's location data and device information — such as phone number, serial number, SIM card ID and other uniquely identifying information — constitutes spying. After all, that's the same information that your cellular carrier collects as part of its business in order to keep your device running.
We believe BLU when its representatives tell us that the company's phones are no longer collecting personal data and that BLU won't switch the feature back on in the future. Amazon clearly believes BLU too, because the retail giant is selling the phones again. And we like that BLU, unlike most of the direct-from-China retailers, has a toll-free support number you can call if anything goes wrong. Despite assurances from BLU and other companies that they can be trusted, you should still be skeptical of any brand you haven't heard of before, even when you're lured in by that cheap price.
Google & Samsung fix Android spying flaw. Other makers may still be vulnerable
But it makes little difference to the consumer. But if you don't want to worry about your phone's security, or your privacy, then stick to the better-known brands. According to a nationally representative phone survey of 1, U. The scary thing, according to security experts, is that there are much more efficient ways to learn all about you without ever having to eavesdrop on that never-ending conversation with your mom. During the school year, researchers led by Northeastern University computer science professor David Choffnes set out to see whether they could catch a smartphone spying on what they said.
Michael Covington, a vice president at Wandera, a mobile security company, says his researchers performed a similar study, focusing on high-profile apps known for large-scale data collection, including Amazon, Chrome, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If snooping of that volume was going on, undetected by researchers, he adds, it would probably involve state-sponsored hackers, who hunt for fish much bigger than the average consumer.
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Companies from Google on down to the tiniest developer of time-wasting games routinely record personal info—names, birthdates, credit card info—simply by asking for it. Many also track your location throughout the day using your phone's GPS and nearby cell towers or web beacons. One screenshot captured ZIP codes. Imagine if others revealed usernames, passwords, or credit card information. Still, it's more likely that, at some point, you paused to admire those sneakers you were discussing with your friend online, Miller notes. And perhaps didn't realize—as few people do—that companies like Google combine data from their many free apps, creating a profile for ad targeting purposes.
And, thanks to all that data-tracking software tied to Facebook, you'll probably see the same ads in your Facebook feed, too. If that weirds you out, try to limit the access those companies have to your browsing history by not using the universal sign-on features offered by Google and Facebook and by not signing into the Chrome browser, Miller says. Keep an eye on the permissions granted to your apps , too, Covington adds. There you'll find a list of apps with permission to use your camera along with toggle switches to withdraw that access.
The next screen will show you what permissions that app has and allow you to turn them on or off.