12,000+ Android Apps Are Tracking Users Without Their Permission; Even Your Location Is Being Monitored Via Apps

Whenever an app is installed on a phone, we all know that it asks for permission to gain access to our devices, but what if we told you that this is all a farce, and even if you deny them the permissions, there are some apps that will still access all your private information?

A recent study has revealed that even if you deny them permissions, there are some apps that will blatantly access the data in your device.

How do apps manage to access the information on your devices even if denied permissions? 

Android Apps Find Ways To Access Personal Data: Study Reveals

A study named ‘50 Ways to Leak Your Data: An Exploration of Apps’ Circumvention of the Android Permissions System’ was published recently at PrivacyCon 2019, and has gained the credit of bringing the whole thing under a spotlight.

Compiled by six researchers from UC Berkeley, University of Calgary, and IMDEA Networks Institute, this study has also been shared with Google and US FTC (Federal Trade Commission), but Google responded that it cant be fixed until the launch of the Android Q operating system. 

As per the study, there are Android apps that have found a way out of the restrictions and are enabled to gain access to information such as device Mac address, location, phone’s IMEI, and more. 

Also, these researchers have tested about 88,000 Android apps of which a considerable number of apps use sly ways to find out users’ location data and persistent identifiers even in the absence of permissions. 

A complete list of 1325 apps that have been identified as wrongdoers will be shared later in August. 

Modus Operandi: Find Out How They Do It

It was found out by these researchers that the SDKs built by Chinese search engines Baidu, and an analytics firm called Salmonads are being used to transfer data from one app to another. They are also used to gain the phone’s IMEI information.

13 apps have been found to be in practice of doing this above, and as much as 159 apps are capable of doing the same.  The researchers say, “These deceptive practices allow developers to access users’ private data without consent, undermining user privacy and giving rise to both legal and ethical concerns.”

A particular app, Shutterfly, which is a photo editing app, apparently records of the GPS coordinates from users’ phones, even after denying permission. However, Shutterfly has refuted all claims.

We will keep you informed as more updates come in!

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