Beginners Section

July 20, 2013

Data-hungry apps, How private is your data?


Have you ever heard of an app called Clueful? NO! Well it’s a privacy monitoring and advisory app from renowned security firm BitDefender that aims to clarify which apps may be taking advantage of you by having an unnecessary peek at your private data.
BitDefender has been analyzing free apps on the Play and iTunes stores (although it has been pulled from Apple’s AppStore) through Clueful and has gone through over 500,000 apps before they decided to release their findings. Of course, not all of the apps that can leak your information will, but, nevertheless, this particular bit won’t be much of a solace to many, or so we think.

Speaking of findings, the report names Location Tracking as the most common intrusive activity that apps undertake, at 45.41% of all analysed apps for iOS opposed to just 34.55% for Android. Next on the list are apps that snoop on your contact list, with 7.69% of Android apps able to take this liberty, as opposed to 18.92% for iOS.

About 6% of analysed Android apps could leak your e-mail to third parties and nearly 9% have access to your phone number. Moreover, 15% of Android apps have access to your device ID. These 3 categories are among the more delicious to third-party ad networks, for they allow them to send you behaviourally targeted advertisements.
Clueful for Android is a FREE product that shows you how installed apps use, and possibly abuse, your personal information and treat your PRIVACY.
You’d be surprised how many things an app can learn about you. Without you ever knowing it.
Clueful is like your own personal “Privacy Consultant” giving you detailed info as to what your installed apps are doing in the background without your knowledge. It checks your apps against Bitdefender’s constantly updated Cloud database, calculates your device’s “Privacy Score”, and then informs you as to which apps are sacrificing your privacy.
Did you know that apps can:

  • Leak your phone number, e-mail address, contacts from address book to aggressive ad networks or third-parties
  • Play audio ads while you’re on the phone
  • Spam you in the notification bar, even if not accessed
  • Send your password unencrypted over the Internet, a password that can be easily intercepted
  • Upload your calendar
  • Read your browsing history, which contains sensitive data
  • Read and send SMS with or without your permission, thus incurring charges to your bill
  • Intercept SMS
  • Make phone calls with or without asking for your permission
  • Monitor your phone calls
  • Upload your device ID. (This unique ID can be used by developers, advertisers and analytics tools to track your location or behaviour across more than one app)
  • Track your location and share it with third-parties
  • Access your photos

…and many more. Really know you apps with Clueful!

Clueful doesn’t only display a list of permissions requested by apps upon install, it goes even further by showing you what apps REALLY do behind your back: leaking your phone number, spamming your notification bar, playing audio ads while on the phone, sending your password unencrypted over the Internet, or even send text messages without asking for your permission!

Bitdefender Clueful monitors apps that you install from the Google Play Store and immediately tells you if they’re not respecting your privacy.

Bitdefender Clueful examines the apps on your smartphone and calculates a precise and personal overview of how vulnerable you are, so that you can evaluate and take appropriate actions for each installed app.

Clueful utilizes the Bitdefender Cloud to access the very latest information from a growing database comprised of hundreds of thousands of apps that is updated 24/7.
BitDefender’s report does go the extra yard to note that not all apps have as sinister intents – some of them need to have access to, say, your location, in order to function properly. What the security company notes, however, is that a poorly implemented code can indirectly affect users via leaks of sensitive information. To that end, Apple, for example, no longer allows iOS apps to read your device’s unique device number.
So should you be worried, especially with the rise of free apps as of late? Somewhat. The ‘price’ of a free app is that you become the product that ensures its existence via ads. As the aforementioned study found, most of us prefer to be subjected to annoying adverts rather than pay for content. Fortunately, both platforms have gone some distance in ensuring you’re as informed as possible about what you’re signing up for and exactly what you’re disclosing to your apps in terms of private information.

Source: BitDefender

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini