Many Android apps have been found to be secretly recording what is shown on the smartphone screen and passing off to third party sources, say researchers.
Researchers have come across some startling evidence that proves smartphone devices can indeed be leaking our personal stuff that we otherwise would have been loath to reveal to all. This has been the outcome of a yearlong research program conducted by scientists at the Northeastern University in Boston that found that some apps are recording everything from the smartphone screen.
The worst part is that the information is then shared with data analytics companies or other third-party organizations. While that can be under the guise of using the info to further optimize the app performance, there is no way to rule out the same is being used for targeted marketing practices as well.
The researchers concluded after running their test on about 17,260 popular Android apps that also included Facebook. However, none of these apps were found to be recording user conversations even though they had explicit permission to the use of the microphone. However, these apps were still found to be recording screenshots and screen-records on the sly and passing them off to third parties, something that the apps surely didn’t have the permission to do.
Interestingly, the initial aim of the research team was to find out if the smartphone is indeed recording conversations of anyone in its vicinity, something that was long being speculated. And the revelation can be considered quite heartening in that none of the apps tested have been found to be onto anything of that sort.
Also, the team focused on only the Android OS which means it’s anybody’s guess what things would likely be when a similar test is conducted on the iOS platform. After all, taking screenshots or screen-recordings isn’t covered under any sort of protection as the camera or microphone is. That makes it pretty easy to record what the screen is showing though letting third-party apps have access to the same is grossly unethical.
A clutch of photo editing apps too have been found to be sending data to their servers or third party sources without them being authorized to do so. What’s more, the apps being tested are all available via the Google Play Store and are supposed to be the most secure destination to source all apps meant for use on an Android device.
No antidote to the menace is known as yet with Google yet to respond to the scenario.