Tons of Android Apps are tracking you secretly
- December 4, 2017
According to a new study, over 3 in 4 Android apps have one third-party "tracker" at the least which is something really alarming for Android users. The study reached this figure after the analysis of hundreds of apps by Exodus Privacy and Yale University's Privacy Lab, a French research organization. They analyzed the mobile apps for the signatures of 25 known trackers that make use of numerous ways to get personal information about users with the objective of targeting for services and ads.
In the survey it was revealed that the apps that were using tracking plugin one sort or another included some of the leading Google Play Store apps such as Uber, Tinder, Spotify as well as OKCupid. All these make use of Crashlytics, a Google service which tracks app crash reports, but it also has the ability to get insight into the activities of the users as well as inject live social content in order to please them.
In addition, there are some less widely-used trackers which have the ability to go much beyond that too. Like FidZup, which is a French firm that can get to know the existence of mobile devices and users with the help of ultrasonic tones. While FidZup claims that it does not use the tech anymore, tracking users via wifi networks works equally well too.
Yale Privacy Lab is making use of its study to call on developers in addition to Google for better transparency into security and privacy practice related to trackers.
According to the researchers Android users as well as other app store users must be provided with a trusted chain of software development, distribution, as well as installation without unknown or masked third-party code.
"Scholars, privacy advocates and security researchers should be alarmed by the data, and can provide further analysis now that these findings and the Exodus platform have been made public."
While Yale study didn’t include iOS apps, the firms says that the issue might just be same on Apple's App Store as well.
"Many of the same companies distributing Google Play apps also distribute apps via Apple, and tracker companies openly advertise Software Development Kits (SDKs) compatible with multiple platforms," said the researchers. "Thus, advertising trackers may be concurrently packaged for Android and iOS, as well as more obscure mobile platforms."