Forbidden Spy Software Detected in 450 Popular Apps
A current report by the VPN provider “ExpressVPN” shows that forbidden data trackers are more widespread than previously assumed. The company examined 450 apps – and found tracking software in each of them.
Data protection is becoming more and more important, but many apps continue to spy on their users
Data protection is one of the biggest sore points when using apps. Many users are not aware of what data they pass on when using apps. Tracking software in particular is also widely used in apps that are generally considered to be safe – even though the Apple and Android app stores prohibit this!
Tracking software is a privacy issue
Tracking the location is so invasive because the data gives a direct insight into the behavior of the users. They keep track of when you get up, where you drive to work, what leisure activities, friends and restaurant preferences you have. From the location data, behavior patterns can be identified relatively easily, which are used, for example, to display targeted advertising. Companies such as “Predicio” and “X-Mode” specifically offer software for location tracking that is used in many apps. They probably pass the collected data on to police authorities, the military and intelligence services.
Above all, Apple, but also Google, is trying to prevent the collection of user data through ever stricter regulations. Nevertheless, security analyzes show that companies cannot get the problem under control. If you put a stop to a method of data tracking, the hackers will find a new way to track users.
Also interesting: Apple fixes serious security gaps – update iPhone and iPad immediately!
Location tracker hidden in many apps
A current security report by the VPN provider ” ExpressVPN ” evaluated 450 apps from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The company found location trackers in each of these apps. Although the privacy issues of these apps are now known, most of them are still available for download. A particularly widespread location technology called “X-Mode” has been banned by both Google and Apple. Nevertheless, up to 90 percent of the apps that use X-Mode can still be found in the respective app store.
The 450 apps that ExpressVPN examined totaled 1.7 billion downloads. It is not a specific category of apps. The location trackers can be found in almost everywhere. In restaurant apps, fitness and health apps, dating apps, messenger apps, etc.
Data usage must be more transparent
ExpressVPN writes that “consumers are increasingly aware of the privacy dangers of using apps.” But it also admits that “they don’t have enough context to make informed decisions”. As an example, the company cites the switch from WhatsApp to Telegram, which many users have made due to data protection concerns. What many don’t know, however, is that Telegram also has a built-in location tracker. In total, ExpressVPN found tracking software from Predicio and X-Mode in 42 messenger apps. The apps were downloaded at least 187 million times. And that although Google has now banned Predicio and X-Mode from the Play Store.
Tracking software is particularly prominent in dating apps. Of the 450 apps examined, 64 belong to this category. However, the download volume is 52 million times lower.
After all, the practice of user tracking is more and more criticized. Not only do Apple and Google now react faster when investigative reports reveal widespread misuse of data. Nevertheless, companies have to take more rigorous action if it is already known that an app is tracking its users.
Also interesting: Google now reveals whether your Android smartphone is unsafe
What to do about tracking software
To make sure you haven’t installed any of the tracking software apps, you can take a look at ExpressVPN’s list . All 450 examined apps are listed there. In general, TECHNOLOGY BUTTON recommends that you always take a look at the required authorizations when installing the app. If it is a calculator or a messenger, the location query is inappropriate. If an app requests this anyway, you should deny access. Apps that rely on location, such as map services, should only be allowed access if you are actively using them. Because if you generally allow the location queries, these apps continue to collect data in the background.