The Truth About Android Security (Part 2) - Deciphering app permissions

- Free product key for windows 10
- Free Product Key for Microsoft office 365
- Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 Serial Keys (LifeTime) 2019

Are your apps spying on you?

There are some Android apps which appear to want to access everything on your phone before they will run. These are apparently legitimate apps and yet the level of interference is high, leading many to question whether or not they are actually spying on you. Whether they are reading your phone status or modifying your SD card, they can appear rather intrusive at times and it is not just the Facebook app which comes under such criticism. Many apps want this level of access.

“I wouldn’t say these apps were spying on you these permissions are very much a general thing,’’ says Ian Naylor, founder of developer App Institute. “You may have a lazy developer turn on all permission requests in the app as it’s the easy option, or equally a new developer may not completely understand the specifics of each setting. They wouldn't know the full effect that a few tick boxes in the integrated development environment (IDE) and the subsequent warnings will have on the user when installing."

A vulnerability in the Facebook and Dropbox apps for Android and iOS means your data can be taken by anyone with access

A vulnerability in the Facebook and Dropbox apps for Android and iOS means your data can be taken by anyone with access

Naylor says that in the majority of cases, the app may not actually need access to those permissions and so it won’t actually be doing anything with the data. “Newbie and lazy developers aside so that's got to be 50 per cent at least of all apps covered an app might rightly need those permissions it’s asking for. So it certainly won’t be used for spying."

So why would an app need your contact information? “Well,” Naylor continues, “an app might want to offer a simple share function so you can recommend it to your friends. This would potentially mean having to give them app permissions to your contacts to auto-complete the names to send to.”

And the phone status? “The app will need to check it has network signal to send the message," Naylor answers. “The more functions you build into an app, the more likely it’s going to increase the permissions needed.”

It is clear then that you may have little to worry about when it comes to fears an app is spying on you. Either the developer behind the app is too inexperienced to even know the data is being accessed, much of the rest of the time those permissions are needed in order for the app to function to the best of its ability.

That said, however, there are some elements of snooping that you may not want. In 2010, researchers from Duke University, Penn State University and Intel Labs found that some apps will send private user information to advertising networks and the report concluded: “While some mobile phone operating systems allow users to control applications’ access to sensitive information, such as location sensors, camera images, and contact lists, users lack visibility into how applications use their private data.”

And why do apps need permissions such as access to your messages and phone calls?

Although these apps ask for your permission when you install the app, what they do not do, by and large, is divulge exactly how that information will be used so it was all the more disturbing when the report found that phone numbers and GPS locations were being harvested off to advertisers. Worse is later news which has shown that documents and photos have been sent to remote servers in the past. The New York Times found that it could build an app to do this and all that was needed was permission to access the internet.

And why do apps need permissions such as access to your messages and phone calls? This is opening users up to trouble. It would be better if apps were more open about why they want your information, which is why we list the most frequent permission requests across the pages as a way to assist. It is heartening that some developers do try to explain. The people behind the Any.Do task managing app do this, explaining that full internet access is needed to access Google Tasks, that it needs to modify and delete SD card contents to store backups, that it needs access to directly call phone numbers for its missed call feature and so much more. But until this kind of behaviour becomes a rule rather than an exception, then it is fair to say there is a security risk, no matter how small It may turn out to be.

That said, developers believe the risk really is minimal but that companies need to be more open and treat data with care and a bit more respect. “I wouldn’t say the apps are spying on users but in order to offer the services that we crave, intelligent apps that seem to ‘know’ what we need from them, they need to have access to the information we supply through the device,” says Matt Sims, marketing director at mobile technology company Ziconix. “I would hope that any business or individual releasing an app would take the correct legal steps to protect users’ information".


What it means

What you need to know

Make phone calls

An app can dial a number on your phone and connect. Google Voice and Google Maps use this.

Although apps could call premium rate numbers, this is rare but do be sure that you trust an app before you download. Those from recognised developers are likely to be fine.

Modify/delete SD card contents

Applications can read, write and delete anything which is stored on your device’s SD card.

Apps which need to store data on the SD card will ask for this permission and again, you need to be sure of the integrity of the app developer and that access is necessary.

Read contact data, write contact data

This will allow your app to access the contacts stored in your device and make additions to them.

Some applications need this - social networks, contact management apps, SMS apps - but a lot do not, so if you don’t feel an app should access your contacts, do not allow it.

Read calendar data, write calendar data

The app will access your calendar, read it and have the ability to make additions to it.

Calendar events can track your whereabouts and they can also contain contact information so if you do not want this to be known to an app, disallow it.

Read sensitive logs

Access is granted to read what any other applications have written as debugging/logging code.

No app should be given this permission other than those you absolutely trust. The word sensitive is in there for a reason so take care.

Find (GPS) location

An app will be able to locate the exact position of your phone and, in many cases, yourself.

Location-based services and advertising use this, and it is typical for cinema, restaurant and map apps to ask for permission to access your location via GPS.

Full internet access

An app will be able to access the internet for any means such as saving files to the cloud.

Granting this gives an app the potential to be able to transfer data off your phone, but there are many legitimate uses such as weather, social networking, web browsers and more.

View network state / Wi-Fi state

The app will be able to find out if you are connected to the internet via 3G or Wi-Fi.

You need not worry about this because the app is only working out whether you have network access at that particular moment in time.

Manage accounts

Apps will be able to manage the accounts on your Android smartphone.

There is a potential for apps to be able to delete accounts but they can certainly add them. Facebook will ask for this permission.

Prevent phone from sleeping

If an app needs to be always on in order to work, it may ask to be prevented from sleeping.

Ensuring a phone does not sleep means they remain useful. An alarm clock which goes to sleep is no good and neither is a video player which closes halfway through a clip.


Top 10
Free Mobile And Desktop Apps For Accessing Restricted Websites
TOYOTA CAMRY 2; 2.5 : Camry now more comely
KIA SORENTO 2.2CRDi : Fuel-sipping slugger
How To Setup, Password Protect & Encrypt Wireless Internet Connection
Emulate And Run iPad Apps On Windows, Mac OS X & Linux With iPadian
Backup & Restore Game Progress From Any Game With SaveGameProgress
Generate A Facebook Timeline Cover Using A Free App
New App for Women ‘Remix’ Offers Fashion Advice & Style Tips
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
- Messages forwarded by Outlook rule go nowhere
- Create and Deploy Windows 7 Image
- How do I check to see if my exchange 2003 is an open relay? (not using a open relay tester tool online, but on the console)
- Creating and using an unencrypted cookie in ASP.NET
- Directories
- Poor Performance on Sharepoint 2010 Server
- SBS 2008 ~ The e-mail alias already exists...
- Public to Private IP - DNS Changes
- Send Email from Winform application
- How to create a .mdb file from ms sql server database.......
programming4us programming4us