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Technology Your "Private" Information can be Stolen and Sold because of Android!


Android Devices  

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  1. 1. Do you use Android devices?

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This is going to scare you, but that is exactly what the truth does. All information is directly from this website: https://www.jscmgroup.com/security-views-blog/2018/8/13/prevalence-of-mobile-surveillance

Also, thanks to my college's Executive Director of Information Technology for making me aware of this issue through email.

The following is the direct words of the website, all credit goes to them:

(Quote begins)

"Mobile surveillance apps and programs remain prevalent in the free apps we use every day.  This problem mainly affects Android users, however jailbroken iPhones are victims as well.  As of this writing, Android represents about 85% of all mobile smartphones sold worldwide.  A much larger attack vector for bad actors.

The main difference in Android and iPhone apps lies in the marketplaces.  Google allows third party marketplaces while Apple iPhones use a store controlled by Apple (called a walled garden).  All apps coming through the iTunes Store has to be approved by Apple.  This has pros and cons depending on who you ask, but without doubt it gives Apple more control over the security in the apps.

A jailbroken iPhone is where the owners perform an unapproved action to unlock the phone from Apple's control.  This allows unapproved third party marketplaces and apps to be installed.

Many Google users love the open architecture of the Android and its ability to use multiple sources for apps and content.  This very openness is what opens those phones up to more security risks.

There are a large number of cyber security people that are also interested in privacy.  The short reason is that when you share data, use social media, allow location tracking, and allow access to your data you open yourself up to more security risks.  You are creating a larger attack surface for someone to steal your ID, manipulate you, be the victim of a phish, or worse.  So to me, privacy and security are related.

Free apps often come with a large price tag.  The ToS, also known as the Terms of Service, often give the app makers access to your private data and other information you may not be aware of.  One example is Angry Birds.  This popular app collected so much information that government agencies just hacked Rovio instead of hacking users to get information on private citizens, and why not?  The plethora of data Angry Birds collected was impressive, all while you were shooting birds at green pigs.

Some of these "free" apps can also come with surveillance software bundled in behind the scenes, secretly stealing even more information.  After extensive research into current surveillance packages on the market.  Here is what attackers can get from your Android phone:

Turn on Microphone and Record Audio

Track Device Location (Current and Historical)

Record Screen Through Applications Like What's App

Drop Calls From Blacklists

Get Device Information (IMEI, Phone Number, Battery Life, Storage usage, Etc)

Record Keystrokes (to steal passwords)

Access Videos and Music

Read and Delete Text Messages

Retrieve Contacts

Get Further Instructions

So how is all this possible on an Android phone?  You allow it.  The phones prompt you when launching the app to give it access to this information.  most users just click Yes or Okay.  So to reiterate that point, this software is not an exploit.  You are allowing it.

Why do they get this data?  So they can sell it.  That is how the pay for the apps.  You are not a customer, you are the product.  They are selling you and your identity.  So next time you want to grab a free app, think carefully."

(Quote ends)

That conclusion was very scary and bone-chilling. Alarming, isn't it? Well for me, it's goodbye to my Android tablet. It won't be missed.

This reminds me of Facebook, how people get into your information and sell it online. Looks like it can happen on Android as well. At least we can trust Apple.

How can we tell that what was said in the quote is 100% accurate? Look at your Android apps permissions, they say it all. Look at what your Android apps can do to your device. It's stupid when you think about it. Why the heck (I'm really pissed just thinking about it) would your games and apps need those stupid permissions for?

Are you going to let Android hold your life in it's unprotective hands?

What are your thoughts on this?

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"At least we can trust Apple."

Not to attack you or anything, but I do not trust Apple with storing my infomation either. Least most of us learned what permissons you shouldn't give.

Edited by Flow
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i have nothing to hide, they can go see everything i do if they have nothing better to do with their lives,i don't really care
whoever is buying that info should come directly to me i'd give them a discount;)

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1 hour ago, Denim&Venom said:

This is what happens when you don't use a BlackBerry OS.  

This problem is hardly specific to Android. In some ways, this is really just common sense.

If you're not paying for it, and it's not an open-source project, then you can safely assume that you're paying for it with access to your personal information. That's why Windows 10 was a free upgrade. That's why most of Google's services are free. It's the same story with Facebook and so many other things. Amazon's Alexa ranks pretty high on the list, too.

The point is, if this wasn't true, then we would have far fewer free apps on Google Play. And it's kind of silly to think that switching to another OS is going to grant you immunity to being tracked. There are precautions we can all take, but it's pretty much futile to completely avoid having data collected on you.

I use Android, but some of the things I do to mitigate this are:

  • I download as few apps as possible. I don't bother with free games. If a website suggests that I download their app, I decline the offer and use the web browser instead.
  • I use open source apps wherever possible. For instance, I use Firefox as my mobile web browser, and QKSMS as my messaging client. 
  • I use the system default apps that come with the phone, if they don't suck. For instance, Samsung and Google both have their own apps for viewing photos and listening to music, but I avoid using the Google apps unless it's necessary.
  • If an app asks for permissions that don't seem necessary, I'll uninstall it and look for an alternative.


Edited by Admiral Regulus
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Well, time to check my phone's permissions! Although, I don't really download plenty of games and apps on my phone. :maud: The person that I'm worried about is my dad, he really likes to download random apps. :/

My family can't really afford another Apple iPhone either, so I'll be using Android for a long time. :catface:

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