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9 iPhone-iPad Apps That Invade Your Privacy, and 1 That Doesn't

Tom Kaneshige | Feb. 1, 2013
Most iPhone and iPad apps appear harmless and fun, but don't fall for them. Some apps are virtual Trojan horses that swipe personal data when you're not looking. Appthority has put together a list of some of the worst offenders and you may be shocked to learn that a couple of the most popular apps made the list, such as Facebook and Angry Birds Star Wars. Be sure to check out the app at the end of the list for the one most honest.

WhatsApp Messenger

What it does: This popular messaging app, which lets users send free instant messages to other smartphones, disappeared from the App Store earlier this month. We're not sure why. But one thing is certain: It was a risky app.

What are the risks:

  • Sends some sensitive data in clear text (no encryption).
  • Can access a user's Location and Contacts Book.
  • Sends some sensitive data in clear text (no encryption).
  • Has ability to read SMS message body.
  • Has access to location data from FourSquare and Google Maps.

SD EPSCoR

What it does: We've seen gaming, social networking, even a religion-based app present some risks to privacy and security. Education and research apps should be safe, right? Wrong. South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (free) provides news updates, announcements, media and funding opportunities. But the makers of this app need to study up on security.

What are the risks:

  • The app was not compiled as a Position Independent Executable (PIE), which could expose the app to memory corruption attacks.
  • Can access the device's Camera, Location and Calendar.
  • Integrates into Facebook.
  • Incorporates Flurry Analytics framework, a service that collects usage data.
  • Uses 8 ad networks.
  • Sends all data in unencrypted clear text.

Kindle

What it does: With all the fear and loathing about iOS apps in this slideshow, we'd like to end on a positive note. You'd think that Kindle, the popular reading app from Amazon, would be a prime candidate for personal data grabs. But Kindle's security profile scored very well in Appthority's testing.

Why it's safe:

  • App does what it's supposed to do without hidden requests, data collection or functions.
  • Links to the Security framework, which provides access to security facilities including the keychain.
  • Encrypts all data, both incoming and outgoing.

 

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