Thousands of Apps Take Screenshots and Record What Users Do on their Smartphones: Research

After hearing justifications from Facebook and other major app developers as to why they require microphone access on your phone, you can probably prepare yourself for another privacy storm, even if the parties involved aren’t of the same stature.

According to a research conducted by the Northeastern University and published by Gizmodo, some apps on your smartphone might be transmitting video recordings and screenshots secretly to third-party domains.

How it Was Tested

To test any possible threats to privacy, the researchers tried out 17,000 of the most-used apps on Android. Out of these, some were Facebook’s own apps while 8000 others were capable of sending data to Facebook. The same report also looked at the microphone rights required by apps but was pretty sure that no audio files were ever sent out.


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They say that since the apps were tested using automated systems, it can’t be said that absolutely no data was collected via microphones, however, there is no reason to be suspicious.

For the experiment, 10 Android devices were tested using automated programs to interact with each of the roughly 17,000 apps, almost 9,000 of whom had access to the cameras and microphones.

Where it All Goes

Of the apps said to be violating your privacy, some such as GoPuff shared details like the zip code with a mobile analytics company AppSee in the form of a video. The data-collecting startup has been open about the ability to get user-data for its clients but has been unable to share the same info with consumers, which is disturbing.

But perhaps more troubling is the medium used to share the data itself. Using video, apps can easily note credit card information, addresses, and passwords as they’re being typed, without the users even getting a hint of it.

Google is said to be working with developers to make sure they better inform users when they have been gathering more data than the latter would normally think. You can read the whole report in the link above.

Via The Verge

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