One out of ten mobile phone and tablet apps are actually leaking information used on other websites, which may endanger the safety and privacy of users, noted US-based research team led by a Greek scientist.
Specifically, the paper states that 9% of apps – even the most popular ones that users download via Google Play on their Android phone or tablet, “communicate” with various websites that are not always reliable, without users knowledge.
Researchers at the University of California-Riverside, led by the Professor of the Department of Computer Science; Michalis Faloutsos are preparing to present their findings at the International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) conference in California.
The researchers analyzed approximately 13,500 free applications by well-known developers -among them social networks, shopping, news services, entertainment and other apps. They found that these applications are connected to a complex network of 250,000 websites, in order to increase their advertising revenue.
According to Faloutsos, most users are not aware that this is happening and that their personal data can be passed into the hands of others. “A lot of people believe that if an app is popular or available on one of the big app stores then it must be safe, and we suspected that wasn’t the case,” he said, but even good apps can leak personal information.
“I think the fact that nine percent of the good apps we analysed interacted with at least one website that distributes malware is very worrisome,” he concluded.
Faloutsos graduated in 1993 from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University in Athens and received his doctorate in computer science from the University of Toronto in Canada in 1999. His research focuses on internet security and it is being funded by the US Army. He is also the co-founder of the cyber-security company StopTheHacker Inc based in San Francisco.