Apps Not Really Safe For Personal Privacy: Study

by CXOtoday News Desk    Sep 15, 2016

Apps privacy

According to a study at the Northeastern University in Massachusetts, US, it has been found that a lot of the applications that users download for their Android and iOS devices, actually gave out their personal information to companies in exchange for revenue thereof. This could include name, gender, location, phone numbers, and also email, of the users using the services. The study also found details, as to what extent the data analytics and advertising companies depended on them for financing, and their operations in business.

According to Assistant Professor David Choffnes, “We expected that apps would leak more as they have better and direct access to these information. Overall that’s true, In fact, we found that in 40% of cases websites leaked more types of information than apps.”

He also mentioned that apps typically one more identifier than a website, if the same services are being used. Though Prof. Choffnes did say that the services generally protected the users’ passwords, but in some case, even these passwords were being sent across, to other third parties that benefit from it. So, in order to give a safety to users, the team at Northeastern University have created an interactive website, whereby users can cross check the levels of privacy vis-a-vis 50 free online services at present, and also get information with regards to what they should keep private.

“We wanted people to have their chance to do their own exploration and understand how their particular privacy preferences and priorities played into their interactions online,” Professor Choffnes added, with regards to the motivation behind building the website.

Following the procedure, the site automatically gives out 2 leakiness indexes for the services selected across platforms (iOS, Android), indicated by a sky blue bar for the app version, and a lime green bar for the app version of the service. It then reveals the best platform which the users can pick from, to use the service.

Professor also mentioned, that the ultimate aim is to start a dialogue between consumers and online services about the kind of information which they would not object to, making public, or sharing for marketing and revenue purposes. It is about striking a balance between revenue needs and consumer privacy, he concluded.


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