Over 1,000 Android apps are collecting user data without permission

When you grant an app permission to access certain data, you probably expect that denying access means that the app simply can’t access the data. Turns out, that may not be altogether true. According to a new report, over 1,000 apps have found ways to bypass those restrictions, essentially allowing them to gather data without the user knowing.

The academic study, which was published on the FTC website, shows that 1,325 of the 88,000 apps that were studied collected such information as geolocation data and phone identifiers, even if the apps weren’t given the permission to do so. There are some pretty popular apps on the list, too — including the Shutterfly app. Baidu was also collecting data through its mapping service — meaning that apps like the Hong Kong Disneyland app, which use Baidu’s mapping service, have been collecting data without permission. Other apps like the Samsung Health and Samsung Browser app also used Baidu back-end and collected data, resulting in other Baidu apps being able to read that data.

Shutterfly, for its part, denies any wrongdoing.

“Like many photo services, Shutterfly uses this data to enhance the user experience with features such as categorization and personalized product suggestions, all in accordance with Shutterfly’s privacy policy as well as the Android developer agreement,” said the company in a statement to CNET.

Some apps used more nefarious methods than others. For example, around 13 of the apps researched piggybacked off of other apps to get access to user data. These apps, which were installed over 17 million times, could read through files that were unprotected, and included the Hong Kong Disneyland app.

So what can be done to prevent these apps from collecting this data? Considering the fact that permissions are supposed to be how we control what data apps can collect, not much. The researchers in the report note that they’ve alerted Google to the issue and that Google has said that it should be fixed in Android Q, which is set to be released later this year. Even with such a fix, there are a ton of phones that won’t get access to Android Q, leaving users vulnerable to having their data collected without their permission. Apart from the fact that the apps in question shouldn’t be collecting data like this, Google should also upgrade how permissions work for all users, even those with older handsets.

Mobile

Report finds Apple routinely favors its own apps in App Store searches

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple routinely ranks its own apps higher than those of competitors in the App Store, despite the fact that competitors' apps are often more popular.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Web

Pegasus spyware can break into users’ cloud accounts and steal data

An Israeli software company has developed a tool with the ability to break into users' cloud-based accounts. The software has been advertised as being able to copy authentication keys and access cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud.
News

These 6 popular browser extensions are selling your data

Some popular browser extensions are collecting and selling your data, according to a a new investigation. The extensions in question are Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!, SuperZoom, SaveFrom.net Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.
Mobile

Leak shows Android running on purported Nokia feature phone

A leaked image appears to show a Nokia feature phone running a modified version of Android, complete with Google Voice Search, YouTube, and all. This would be a market-changing collaboration between Google and HMD.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.
Mobile

Apple’s iOS 12.4 brings back Walkie-Talkie, makes improvements to Apple News+

Apple has finally taken the wraps off of iOS 12.4, bringing a number of tweaks to Apple News+, plus the reinstatement of the Walkie-Talkie feature on the Apple Watch, which was disabled after the discovery of a security flaw.
Mobile

Apple is reportedly about to buy Intel’s modem business

According to a report, Apple could be buying out Intel's 5G modem business, which would give Apple at least some of the intellectual property and staff required to develop its own modems for iPhones.
Social Media

Facebook admits to Messenger Kids security flaw but insists it’s fixed

Facebook has confirmed it missed a flaw in its Messenger Kids app that meant children could have communicated with users who hadn’t been parent-approved. The firm says it has now fixed the issue and contacted those affected.
Mobile

Huawei’s blacklisted status contributes to more 5G decision delays in the U.K.

The decision over which companies will be involved in creating the U.K.’s burgeoning 5G network has been delayed again, and Huawei's presence on the U.S. Entity List is partly to blame.
Mobile

Honor puts a shiny target on the back of its desirable new 9X phones

Honor has announced the Honor 9X and Honor 9X Pro. The two new phones have currently been unveiled only in China, but the company often goes on to release its new devices internationally, provided it can overcome some challenges.
Mobile

Huawei denies reports it is helping North Korea build its wireless network

Tensions between Chinese mobile giant Huawei and the U.S. are likely to rise even higher after the Washington Post reported the company has allegedly been secretly working with a Chinese state-owned firm to build and maintain North Korea's…
Wearables

Whistle's new Go Explore tracker goes beyond GPS to monitor your pet's health

Whistle's latest line of pet trackers don't just track activity and GPS, but health trends as well. The Whistle Go and the Whistle Go Explore use research collected in a three-year span from more than 55,000 dogs.
Mobile

Note 10 dummies give us our best look yet at Samsung’s controversial changes

There are a lot of changes planned for the Note 10 and Note 10 Pro, and some of the largest have been shown off in two new leaked dummies of the phones, including a new design, and the lack of a long-loved, fan-favorite feature.