Free Apps: iOS Leakier Than Android

According to the February 2013 App Reputation Report from Appthority free iPhone and iPad apps from Apple’s App Store pose a bigger privacy risk to users than free apps for Android devices via Google Play.

leaks

From the top 10 most popular apps in a variety of categories the report discovered that around 60% of iOS apps shared data in comparison to 50% of the popular Android apps. A quick glance at the report highlights shows that data leakage is quite high above both platforms though –

Report Highlights

    • The vast majority of free apps send and receive data to outside parties without encryption.
    • 96% of total apps share data with advertising networks and/or analytics companies.
    • 79% of the top 50 free iOS and Android apps are associated with risky behaviors or privacy issues. Overall, iOS apps exhibited more risky behaviors than Android apps.
    • Entertainment apps were the worst offenders out of the top five categories, with the highest number of apps that track for location and share data with advertising networks and/or analytics companies.
    • While 14% of iOS apps had access to a user’s calendar, none of the Android apps had similar access.
    • More than half of the total apps track for location by accessing the device GPS or using other location tracking methods.
    • More than 80% of apps across categories come from different unique, individual developers.

Appthority

I thought the fact that 96% of apps share data with ad/analytic companies was a staggeringly high figure but I guess it does make sense. After all, if you are giving apps away or selling them for less than a dollar then there isn’t much profit in it for you. Selling ad space may be the only means for some developers to make some coin and we all know they pay better if they can get the maximum amount of info about their target audience.

Are you concerned about free apps knowing and sharing too much about you or is the word “free” all that matters when you hit that download button?

photo: Rob Ellis

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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