No privacy for mobile users?

Due to occasional scandals about data leaks, each of us starts questioning whether it is possible to stay anonymous or at least protect personal data. Responding to users’ concerns, software developers are developing security strategies and educating users about privacy tips. Nonetheless, in comparison with standalone devices, mobile devices lag way behind them. Netizens may be used to installing and enabling new apps without a second thought about how much these programs collect information about them and whether they share it with external parties. A recent discovery reveals that 7 out 10 mobile apps require access to personal details and even share it with business partners. On the other hand, what choice do users have if depriving programs of such privilege makes them futile?

For conducting the analysis, researchers employed Lumen Privacy Monitor software. More than 5000 applications[1] found on Google Play store were analyzed. The research reveals that 70% of analyzed applications engaged in user tracking activities. One program uses several tracking tools to identify users and link them to their other possessed devices. However, the dilemma occurs that almost absolute majority of these applications require personal information in order to provide sufficient services. However, such data collection may alert users who are concerned about their privacy especially data leak incidents or infiltrated ransomware in Google Play Store cases. The necessity to secure personal data is gaining more relevance among netizens

Thus users, who succumb to downloading multiple apps on their devices, face a riddle: how to exploit all mobile capabilities but at the same time limit the risk of personal data theft? Fortunately, they are not alone in solving this riddle. Software developers propose tips how to refuse certain functionalities but instead limit the app’s tendency to spy on you. Ad blockers provide one of a possible solution. Furthermore, researchers are also working on specific VPN networks, such as ReCon project[2], which track incoming and outgoing pieces of information. Such network is also capable of identifying the end destination of data transmissions. Other researchers have come up with the Haystack project. This VPN network secures users’ data from being transmitted by apps for analysis. Though these initiatives might result in long-awaited solutions, they face critical issue – funding. In order to become fully-functional and accessible for the online masses, developers are in need of financial support. While the bright minds of the IT world are working on these strategies, users can opt for temporal solutions. Install only crucial apps on the mobile device. Carefully inspect the security alerts before executing them on the device.

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Anti-malware specialist

Julie Splinters is the News Editor of 2-spyware. Her bachelor was English Philology.

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