News

New Report Shows Android Apps Work Together to Steal Your Data

Android Apps Mine Data by Working
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6222337d) The LG V20 is demonstrated in New York. The most visible changes include the ability to run two apps side-by-side Android Nougat Phone, New York, USA - 30 Aug 2016

* Three-year study analyzed more than 100,000 Android apps
* Data sharing between apps wasn’t always intentional
* A user’s location was found to most likely be leaked

A team of researchers at Virginia Tech released some startling information this week: thousands of Android apps work together to share and mine your data.

Using a tool dubbed DialDroid (database powered ICC analysis for Android), they were able to examine how apps interact with each other and in some cases share data. The study, which covered more than 100,000 apps, found a user’s risk of privacy exposure increased exponentially when these apps shared data.

The study found more than 20,000 instances of apps working together. And these weren’t just apps that were designed to extract private data; a large number of seemingly innocuous apps were also found to share info through flaws in their software.

While the data collusion was not always intentional, one of the biggest takeaways is that a user’s geographic location was among the most shared information.

It works something like this: one app could have your physical location, where another could have your itinerary or device used. Put the two together and you have a much more accurate picture of not only where you are at any given time, but also what you might be doing.

App behavior, whether intentional or not, can pose a serious liability to your privacy. That’s why it’s important to take the time to read through each app’s terms of service and see what permissions an app requires before accepting. 

In an effort to help cut back on your risk of data exposure, make sure you delete apps you no longer use and limit what types of data your apps are able to access.

You can read the full study here.