Almost all top apps use trackers to secretly monitor users: Study – News


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So the question is, do you think that the smartphone apps you use track you all the time? Well, the answer, at least where some popular apps are concerned, is yes.

App analysis organization Yale Privacy Lab, an initiative of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School conducted a study on this & found that almost all the popular apps such as Uber, Tinder, Skype & Twitter, to name a few, have hidden trackers that secretly monitor users.

The 25 trackers investigated were a sample of the 44 identified-to-date by security researchers at Exodus Privacy, a non-profit organization based in France. Their Web-based privacy auditing platform, also named Exodus, analyzes apps available via Google Play.

Privacy Lab announced on its blog that publication of this information was in the public interest, since “it revealed clandestine surveillance software that was unknown to Android users at the time of app installation.” These trackers vary in their features & purpose, but were primarily utilized for targeted advertising, behavioral analytics, & location tracking.

The 25 trackers are a sample of the 44 identified-to-date by security researchers at Exodus Privacy, a non-profit organization based in France. Their Web-based privacy auditing platform, also named Exodus, analyzes apps available via Google Play. Exodus scans apps for the signatures of known trackers and identifies Android operating system permissions. To coincide with Privacy Lab’s publication, the Exodus organization has made its app auditing platform available to the public at https://exodus-privacy.eu.org and is releasing the code as Free and Open-Source Software.[2]

 

More than 75% of the 300+ apps analyzed by Exodus contained the signatures of trackers, though this data did not tell the whole story. Privacy Lab said there was an entire industry based upon these trackers, & apps identified as “clean” today may contain trackers that had not yet been identified. Tracker code may also be added by developers to new versions of apps in the future.

The Exodus platform identifies trackers via signatures, like an anti-virus or spyware scanner, & thus can only detect trackers previously identified by researchers at the time of the scan, said the post.  For this reason, new trackers will be added as the software is developed, & apps should continue to be scanned over time.

In the post, Privacy Lab has also urged the information security community to help expedite this process.

For the post, click here.


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