Almost Half Of iPhone Apps Peek At Your Private Stuff

 

 

” Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego discovered that nearly half of the mobile apps running on Apple’s iOS operating system have gained access to private data. These findings are based on a study of 130,000 users of jailbroken iOS devices, where users have removed restrictions that keep apps from accessing the iPhone’s operating system.

One might assume that the results are skewed because the study participants were using a jailbroken iPhone. However, the majority of applications in the study were downloaded through Apple’s App Store and were able to access the same information on locked phones as well.

In March, Apple stopped accepting new applications or app updates that access these “unique identifiers,” or privacy invaders. However, the findings suggest that although this update was made to the App Store policy, many apps can still get that information. Unique identifiers allow the creators of the app and advertisers to track a user’s behavior through all the different apps on their devices. Some apps even associate the unique identifier with the user’s email and other personal information.

The researchers developed an app called ProtectMyPrivacy (PMP) that is able to detect what data the other apps running on an iOS device are trying to access. Their application enables users to selectively allow or deny access to information on an app-by-app basis, based on whether they feel the apps need the information to function properly.

The team has also added notifications and recommendations for when an app accesses other privacy-sensitive information, such as a devices’ front and back camera, microphone and photos.”

“We wanted to empower users to take control of their privacy,” said Yuvraj Agarwal, a research scientist in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego who co-authored the study. “The choice should be in users’ hands.”