Toronto: Recently, a research was conducted studying 110 apps and it is found that the apps in both Apple app store and Google Play are sending users’ highly personal information to the third parties often with no notice.
According to the research, 55 most popular apps from both iOS and Android markets are found that they are regularly providing third parties with users’ names, email addresses and physical locations as well.
So, on an average the Android apps potentially sent the sensitive data to 3.1 third-party domains whereas the iOS apps sent the data to 2.6 third party domains. Few health apps also sent the searches including the words like “interferon” and “herpes” to more than 5 domains without even a single notification.
Apps disclose Phone’s IMEI
- Results of the research shows that the current permission systems on Android and iOS are very limited; they don’t even inform the users about the degree of data sharing that is happening. The personal information commonly transmitted by Android apps was the mail id of the users, with 73% of apps studied sending it. On the whole, 49% of Android apps sent users’ name, 33% of apps sent the GPS coordinates and 24% sent the phones IMEI also.
- The apps which we need to be concerned about are those which sent third parties the sensitive combination of data. For example, Facebook received the names and locations of users from seven apps which were involved in the study. The seven apps were Groupon, American Well, Pinterest, Tango, RunKeeper, Timehop and TextFree.
Health apps disclosing the most sensitive data
- The researchers also found that 51 out of 55 Android apps which were tested were connected to the domain safemovedm.com. Even the researchers were not that clear about the apps’ connection with this domain but they were curious about the ubiquity of the domain. They also guessed that it might be the connection being made by Android operating system.
- They have also noticed that many health applications in the study sent the most sensitive health information. For example, Period Tracker Lite which tracks the menstrual cycles has transmitted the symptom inputs like insomnia to apsalar.com. Also, the job search apps like Snagajob have shared the employment related inputs like car mechanic, nurse and so on with the domains like scorecardresearch.com, google-analytics.com, healthcareresource.com and 207.net.
So the researchers say that the best thing users can do to safeguard their personal data is to provide false data to app requests whenever possible. They also said that, the apps can also be redesigned to allow users to opt out of data collection and the app stores could inform the users prominently about the third parties who may receive their sensitive data.
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