Sunday, November 22, 2015

Many of your Android apps send unnecessary hidden data

We all know that our Android apps send a lot of data, but recently MIT researchers have determined that this is not always necessary for the app to function properly, and that some of it is not public, either. They have performed tests on apps and modified them to prove this point, and the result was that out of the 47 apps they tested, 30 of them were identical to the official versons, and a small number had minor issues such as ads not showing. It’s not necessary for a Walmart app to send data to eBay when you scan a barcode using it, but it is what happens.

This is not strictly just the problem of Android, and it doesn’t mean the data sent is suspicious – most of it is just analytical data, crash reports, performance reports and things that should help the app work better. And most of these permissions we give out voluntarily, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the time we don’t know what the apps are doing with the data and that opens the door to concerns that some app developer may put your info at risk unnecessarily. When you put into account that half of the “covert” transmitted data is for analytical purpose, and the other half remains a mystery, these concerns become more justified. The MIT researchers believe that this doesn’t mean that the mysterious data transmitting needs to stop, but that the users have to be aware of it and know what’s going on.

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