Flashlight app threat and the dangers of “free”

app-permission

The following video is making its rounds because it warns people about the dangers of downloading free flashlight apps on your smartphone. The makers of these apps get your permission to access everything on your phone—and then that info gets sent to its makers in Russia, China and India. Nice.

They could turn on your camera and see you; they could turn on your microphone and listen to everything you say (even with the phone turned off, by the way); they could access your bank account apps, etc.

The person being interviewed is the president of a new company called Snoopwall that, you guessed it, makes privacy software/apps. The flashlight app angle is a brilliant piece of marketing to draw attention to their products and services.

However, it’s more than just a malicious flashlight app. There are so many free apps for your smartphone that inexplicably require access to your contacts, phone calls, photos, location, etc, etc, etc.

Why?

Some of it is collecting marketing information so they can target you with ads. The rest? Maybe the makers sell your data to make money (after all, they gave you the app for FREE). Maybe the makers are criminals seeking to steal your money. Maybe they are identity thieves. Or maybe the makers are foreign intelligence organizations.

All use your desire for free stuff, instead of paying for it, to get to you.

I always say “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” There is nothing for free. The same applies to so-called free apps. I have very few apps on my phone because I believe what I say about free. As soon as I have to provide additional information to install anything, I stop installing whatever it was I thought I needed.

Everyone has to start realizing that the wacky, the strange, the bad, the perverted, and the lack-of-any-purpose-in-life evil-doers are having field day on the web.

I have a big red circle with the number 1 in it on my settings app that that just magically appeared on my phone. I am content to look at for however long I have this phone because I don’t trust whatever it is they want me to do. In today’s world, if your phone told users to do this or do that, most people would do it without ever thinking of any potential negative consequences and no hesitation.

This world has surpassed anything George Orwell wrote about and now we have the equivalent of the “The Stepford Wives” in the palm of your hand. Incredible trackers that can monitor everything you do and no government or dictator or police state even forced us to have.

New app reveals how your smartphone can spy on you without permission (VIDEO) (RT)

Mobile Apps Take Data Without Permission (New York Times)

User Beware: That Mobile App is Spying on You (CIO)

App Reputation Report (Appthority)
….By a large margin, free apps are riskier than paid apps. The biggest disparity between free and paid apps is location tracking. While 66% of free apps track for location, less than half of paid apps (37%) do the same. Free apps are also more likely than paid apps to use single sign-on (67%), share data with ad networks (52%) and analytic frameworks (35%), offer in-app purchasing (57%), identify the user or UDID (73%), and access the address book or contact list (28%). Paid apps, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as safe as one might think. While 99% of free apps exhibited at least one risky behavior, so did 83% of the top paid apps. Developers of paid and free apps are seeking new methods of generating revenue and unfortunately, it comes at the cost of the user’s privacy…..

SecurityWatch (blog that tracks app malware)

The threats from free smartphone apps (Tech Radar)

7 ways your apps put you at risk, and what you can do about it (Digital Trends)