Mobile Apps are the Main Source of Data Leakage


The mobile users have increased and the developers are building new apps to enhance the mobile technology. There are many personalized apps that are available for all the users from different fields of business and it also contains the personal and confidential information about the user stored in the device.

When it comes to mobile devices and app, security is the major concern among the users and the application developers. To combat this issue, the developers are trying to implement innovative and powerful technology in the application so as to protect the user’s information. Some of the mobile apps are available for free, while others are paid services. The users have to be careful using the free apps because it is vulnerable to data leaks in the online platform.

The cyber hackers and internet attackers constantly try new applications and software tools to trap the user information via the mobile device and the application. The data and information trapped from the user’s device is shared with the third party without the knowledge of the users.

Mobile apps leak personal information

The mobile devices and the apps are very personal to the users in such a way that all the sensitive and personal information about the user is stored in the device. When the mobile technology has become part and parcel of the human life, it also comes with the risk of data breach, theft, remote SIM card rooting and denial of service attacks.

The technology researchers have found that the data and sensitive details stored by the user can be easily trapped from the device without the knowledge of the end user. They have said that both the iOs and Android apps are both liable to cyber attack.

A security code test for the Android devices were conducted and it was found that of the fifteen of thirtyapplications send the user’s personal information to the remote servers with the intimation of the user. There are even situations when the location information of the user is also sent to the third part servers after every thirty seconds.

There are credible reasons for an app to use the private information of the user. The apps present in the mobile device gets the private information from the sensor devices like the microphone, accelerometer, camera and GPS device from the mobile phone and from the cloud server. Even though the user has the power to either allow or not allow the apps to access the user information, they have no idea how the applications access the information. The lack of transparency in the application service forces the users to believe the apps will protect their sensitive information. This is the reason for the users to give permission to the app to access the personal information.

Process of trapping data from the mobile apps

When innovative apps are developed with high end security features, the hackers design more powerful hacking tools to trap the information from the user’s device. With the increase in the number of mobile apps, the cyber attackers are using the mobile apps as the key to trap user information.

How data are leaked..?

The in-app advertisements are shown within another app, so the mobile app developers accept the in-app advertisements. And the in-app advertisement pays a service fee for the mobile application developers to display the advertisements. Through this process, the ad networks can also track the activity of the user like the model of the mobile device, the geo-locations, list of applications in the device and other activities. With these details the advertisement network can easily choose a target location to place their ads.

The ad network is advised by the advertisers to place the ads based on several factors like the demographic targeting based on the age of the device user, topic targeting based on the vehicles and automobiles and other interesting targets based on the older click thoughts and the usage pattern. These are the basic targets through which the users receive advertisements within the mobile application. If the ad networks place the ads in the proper mobile apps, then the advertisers will pay the ad networks for each successful click or view.

These in-app ads are the unencrypted sessions of the user interface, so the application developers can target the contents in the ad that are delivered to their app users and thereby reverse engineer the data to create a new profile for the users.

Custom research

The researchers conducted a personalized test on the Android apps to find out the data leakage from the user’s mobile phones and about two hundred participants participated in the research. The personalized ads were considered as targets to test the AdMob, Google mobile ad network depending on the demographic profiles and personal interest.

To the surprise, this is the first time ever in the technological research, the researchers have found that the demographic were the main part in determining the user’s interest and the analysis report released that forty one percent of the users match with the fifty seven percent of the ad impressions, even more the demographic information correlates with the user, ninety two percent or the user correlates with seventy three percent of the ad impression.

Apart from this information, the developers can use in-app advertisements to find other information regarding the users like the political affiliations, income, marital status, parental status, gender, religion, race, health and other sensitive information.

Reason for data leakage

From the research analysis, it was found that the main reason for the leakage of the sensitive and privacy information is because of the shortfall of isolation between the mobile application and the advertisements. It is also found that the applications adapting to the HTTPS do not secure the ad traffic. And it also reports the necessity to protect the app from the ad network’s private information.

The researchers advised the advertisement providers to design a defense mechanism in the products to preserve the user’s privacy.

A tech savvy will read the permission list along with the terms and conditions, while downloading the app on their mobile device. But most of the users download the app directly from the app store without even reading the permission list and might lead to the release of the user information without their permission.

Users downloading themobile application think that their information is only stored by the application developers, but the information is leaked to the third party members like the analytics and ad networks without the permission of the end users. Though, these ads and other services are resourceful things to the app developers, they do not inform the users about the tracking services in the apps.

A major part of the information leaked from the user’s device is the metadata and of these seventy three is from the iOs devices and fifty three percent is from the Android devices. The metadata consists of the sensitive information like the software, network information and unique ID of the mobile phone and these details are more than enough for the attacker to attack the device and trap their personal and confidential information.

By reviewing these information and research study, the developers must try to implement strong technology while designing the apps and at the same time the enterprises and business organizations must invest more revenue and time in building a secured app infrastructure.


Author Bio:

Anand Rajendran is CEO and Co-Founder of Dectar, best PHP scripts development company located in India. Dectar is a part of Casperon Technologies a leading social and mobile development company which is Developing Uber for X apps for the past 3 years. I’m a Tech geek, Digital marketing expert, Entrepreneur, and Atheist who loves to write everything about PHP Scripts and mobile application development.

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