[LINK] smartphones with apps collecting and transferring your data

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Thu Jul 29 08:35:50 AEST 2010


What your phone app doesn't say: It's watching
written by: Jeffrey Wolf
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Your smart phone applications are watching you - 
much more closely than you might like.

Lookout Inc., a mobile-phone security firm, scanned nearly 300,000 
free applications for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and phones built around 
Google Inc.'s Android software. It found that many of them secretly 
pull sensitive data off users' phones and ship them off to third 
parties without notification.

That's a major concern that has been bubbling up in privacy and 
security circles.

The data can include full details about users' contacts, their 
pictures, text messages and Internet and search histories. The third 
parties can include advertisers and companies that analyze data on users.

The information is used by companies to target ads and learn more 
about their users. The danger, though, is that the data become 
vulnerable to hacking and use in identity theft if the third party 
isn't careful about securing the information.

Lookout reported its findings this week in conjunction with the Black 
Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas.

Lookout found that nearly a quarter of the iPhone apps and almost 
half the Android apps contained software code that contained those 

The code had been written by the third parties and inserted into the 
applications by the developers, usually for a specific purpose, such 
as allowing the applications to run ads. But the code winds up 
forcing the application to collect more data on users than even the 
developers may realize, Lookout executives said.

"We found that not only users, but developers as well, don't know 
what's happening in their apps, even in their own apps, which is 
fascinating," said John Hering, CEO of the San Francisco-based Lookout.

Part of the problem is smart phones don't alert users to all the 
different types of data the applications running on them are 
collecting. iPhones only alert users when applications want to use 
their locations.

While Android phones offer robust warnings when applications are 
first installed, many people breeze through them for the 
gratification of using the apps quickly.

Apple and Google didn't respond to requests for comment on Lookout's research.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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