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Mobile Security – Application spying research report JULY 2018

Users must carefully ascertain security & privacy risks when using 3rd party apps on their smartphones.   An informative study by Northeastern University assessed 17,000 popular Android apps to determine whether they stealthy access your phone’s microphone to record audio.  They found more risk associated with access to screen areas and camera — than to listening to personal conversations. 

https://www.pcmag.com/news/362277/apps-arent-listening-to-you-but-they-are-recording-your-sc

Convinced that apps on your phone are secretly eavesdropping on your conversations and to target you with advertisements? As Gizmodo reported, researchers from Northeastern University conducted a yearlong study to find out if this conspiracy theory is true. The researchers – Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes – studied the behavior of more than 17,000 popular Android apps to determine whether they stealthy access your phone’s microphone to record audio.

There’s good news and bad news. On the bright side, the researchers “found no evidence” that apps are sneakily snooping in on your conversations. Now, the bad news: They’re doing something equally, if not more, creepy: recording your screen.

“We find that several apps leak content recorded from the camera and the screen over the internet, and in ways that are either undisclosed or unexpected given the purpose of the app,” the researchers concluded. “Importantly, we find that third-party libraries record a video of a user’s interaction with an app, including at times sensitive input fields, without any permissions or notification to the user. Further, several apps share users’ photos and other media over the internet without explicitly indicating this to the user.”

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