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Comprehensive analysis reveals huge privacy gap in Google Android



It was found that 89% of applications use a known permission backdoor to access and record every on-screen activity of Android user.



05.Jul.18 6:58 AM
By Shawn Highstraw
Photo Tech Viral

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Comprehensive analysis reveals huge privacy gap in Google Android
Prior to installation and first run of every app from Google Play the user gets a quick form of what data the app can access. Most users agree with everything they are exposed to without even wondering why some silly point-and-tap game is requiring access to their phonebook. But at least someone can prevent the app from setting up and running based on the privacy concerns thus keeping Google and the app developers in perfectly legal position. It is the user who agreed to give up their data, not the developers stole it.

A group of scientists from Northeastern University and UC Santa Barbara revealed that it is not the case however. The paper, titled Panoptispy: Characterizing Audio and Video Exfiltration from Android Applications contains comprehensive analysis of more than 9000 application downloaded from Google and some other repositories.

It was found that 89% of applications use a known permission backdoor to access and record every on-screen activity of Android user:

"Our study reveals several alarming privacy risks in the Android app ecosystem, including apps that over-provision their media permissions and apps that share image and video data with other parties in unexpected ways, without user knowledge or consent," the authors note.

"We also identify a previously unreported privacy risk that arises from third-party libraries that record and upload screenshots and videos of the screen without informing the user and without requiring any permissions."

There is no permission required for third-party code in an app to continuously record the screen displayed to the user - authors note.




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