Android flashlight apps harvesting your data for marketing & cyber crime.
You LOVE that flashlight app you have on your smartphone, right? Whether you’re in that dark restaurant with a size 2.5 font or wanting to share your love at a concert or finding your keys in your purse…you wonder, how did you ever live without it?
Well, it turns out the creators of that wonderful app love it, too, because it has become a way for them to get ahold of your personal data to use or sell.
Android devices seem to be especially vulnerable. Snoopbit studied the top ten Android flashlight apps and discovered that every one of them collects unnecessary user data and accesses areas of the device completely unrelated to the purpose of the app. This includes having the ability to read phone status and identity, view Wi-Fi connections, modify system settings, obtain full network access, and determine your precise location via your phone’s GPS, among other permissions.
Snoopbit tested these flashlight apps: Super Bright LED flashlight, Brightest Flashlight Free, Tiny Flashlight + LED, Flashlight, Brightest LED Flashlight, Color Flashlight, High Powered Flashlight, Flashlight HD LED and Flashlight: LED Torchlight.
If you have any of these apps on your phone, uninstall them immediately. You can also investigate “permissions groups” to learn more about what an app will be able to access on your device (see below). With permissions groups, you can quickly see what capabilities or information an app may use before downloading it. Also, you can review individual permissions at any time using the Play Store app.
It’s a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you’ve allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won’t need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you’ve already accepted.
To review individual permissions and groups used by the latest version of an app available on the Play Store:
- Open the Play Store app.
- Go to an app’s detail page.
- Scroll down to “Additional Information.”
- Select View details.
After you’ve installed an app, you can review the permissions it can use on your Settings menu.
- Open your main Settings menu.
- Select Apps or Application Manager.
- Select an app.
- Scroll down to “Permissions.”
The pre-installed iPhone flashlight app seems safe, and those apps using iOS and Windows Phone OS are not as dangerous, but third-party apps on Windows Phone and at the iTunes store are also accessing unnecessary sensitive user data and location information, and unnecessarily using the internet, collecting data and building user profiles. Apple Users can find more information on app privacy here: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT6338
John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.