Forget the hysteria about Google’s recent privacy change (Quick recap: No they aren’t giving your info out to anyone. They’re simply using what they know about you from their own apps to direct their ads better. “Internet advertising giant gets smarter: Shock horror”. If you’re sceptical, you can read the full details here).
Nope, the biggest story of the week about online privacy violation was from the UK’s Channel 4 News – the best UK TV news by a mile.
Working with MWR Infosecurity they revealed how many “free” android apps are simply fronts for mining your phone for private information.
At the very least this is sold on to advertisers. But some of them are probably acting as de-facto Trojans for much nastier end users.
This type of thing is illegal – certainly in Europe. And in the US Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer has just taken this up with the Federal Trade Commission.
While there have been reports about malicious apps before, notably with the “Droid Dream Light” scam, the worrying thing about this new story is that it appears thousands of apps are now involved in tricking information out of people.
See the full report here (4 mins) including a neat section where a programmer has made a simple app that steals your text messages, contacts (ie all your amigos) , your location (ie stalking you), basically any data you have on your phone.
The question is how many of the 300,000 bright, shiny free android apps are snakes in disguise?
For the record neither our dooster.net productivity web app or our iphone or android apps do anything like this. Promise !