Beware of Apps that Violate Your Privacy

AppsBe vigilant when installing apps. They may cost you your privacy.

While mobile apps provide users a world of convenience, there are many free apps (and even some paid ones) that may violate your privacy. Here are some of these apps.

Gaming apps. Several popular gaming apps failed to make the grade when it comes to protecting the user’s privacy. Some seemingly innocent gaming apps such as My Talking Tom (a game where you adopt and take care of a cute little kitten) and the widely popular Angry Birds don’t score well when it comes to privacy.

My Talking Tom includes eight targeted ad libraries and sends the advertisers your phone’s identifying information as well as the audio from your microphone. On the other hand, Angry Birds include several targeted ad libraries that grab your phone identity information (phone call logs, carrier, device ID and number). In addition, Angry Birds is also being used by the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) to collect user data such as age, gender, and location.

Draw Something Free (a version of Pictionary that allows users to play remotely with friends) and Word with Friends (a free social word game that works like Scrabble) also include several advertiser libraries and collect users’ phone numbers, call logs, carrier and signal information. In addition, Word with Friends also grabs users’ location information to allow advertisers to serve location-based ads.

GO Locker and GO Weather Forecast and Widgets. While the GO Locker app promises to provide a smarter and more secure screen lock for your phone, it requires a lot of permissions to do its job. Thus, it can grab anything from your device ID to your location and everything else you can ever think of. It is also capable of reading your text messages. The same goes for GO Weather Forecast and Widgets and all the other GO apps.

It is interesting to note that while these apps don’t have any ad libraries installed, they still manage to send user data to app stores other than Google Play. This can be potentially dangerous since it increases the users’ risk of having their security violated.

Camera360 Ultimate. Its developers proclaim Camera360 Ultimate as the ultimate camera app. However, while it does not have any ad targeting libraries installed, it grabs a lot of information from its users. It also has the Baidu search engine (China’s most dominant search engine) library installed, which does not make any sense.

Uber. Uber is hailed as one of the most modern and most convenient ways to travel. To facilitate a better service, it grabs your location so it can locate the nearest vehicle and send it to you. However, there were reports claiming that some Uber employees use these information to track passengers’ movements ? another clear violation of user privacy.

Apps can definitely make your life easier but you need to be extremely careful when choosing which apps to install if you want to protect your personal data and your privacy.