With the recent revelations from the Edward Snowden leaks on the harvesting of private data, and the use of analytics data from mobile apps in its collection, how aware are you of the extent downloading and using an app can affect your security?
Many mobile app developers use analytics to help improve their products. They provide the developer the ability to see how often their app is used, which sections users visit most often and for how long. This information is essential in making improvements and developing further apps. Alongside developmental advantages, app developers also collect data for another reason – with free games ever increasing, developers need this information to help in targeted advertising, and to sell on to third parties, meaning the information is another revenue generator.
But Snowden’s leaks have revealed many apps, such as Angry Birds, are collecting far more detailed information than originally thought, from phone model and screen size to much more personal details such as age, gender, location and even sexual orientation. Many will be shocked to learn of the extent of information collected, and the fact intelligence agencies are harvesting it.
Apps that require you to log in via social media platforms, and access your GPS can easily track where and when you play the game, as well as your full identity and all personal information you have on your social media account. If this information is then transmitted without being encrypted, any third party with basic know- how has open access to your information.
So, next time you download an app that asks your permission to access certain data, think about the information this could release if the data is transmitted without encryption, and if this is the information you want being studied by everyone from advertising companies to the NSA!