When it comes to search engines, apps and information in general, Google is one of the most trusted names in the business. Google has millions of loyal followers, some following and trusting Google products simply for the Google name. However, that might soon be a thing of the past.
There have been over 100,000 applications for Android that have been called into question, as being either questionable or suspicious. These apps are available through Google Play, the online store where Google offers hundreds of thousands of apps for its Android OS.
Currently, there more than 400,000 apps available through Google Play. With as much as 100,000 being called into question, it’s a sure bet that most Google Play shoppers have come into contact with at least one of these high risk apps. With a number that high, that is almost a solid 25% of all Android applications that may not be safe for the average consumer to download on his or her smartphone, tablet, or other device.
Bit9, a security software firm that did an analysis of these apps and their security permissions, says that of these 100,000 apps, around 72% of these apps have one or more high-risk permission. Furthermore, the company said their analysis revealed that around 42% of these apps use GPS data gleaned from games, utilities and wallpapers. Bit9 also said reported that around 31% could access phone numbers and calls made, and that 26% of these apps access contacts and other personal information like email. The last 9% is reportedly using permissions that can actually charge the user money.
Harry Sverdlove, Bit9’s chief technology officer, gave a statement on the findings, saying that a substantial number of the Google Play apps have access to what can be considered by users as sensitive and personal information. Sverdlove said it is raises a red flag when an app for wallpaper sends a request for GPS data. Sverdlove finished his statement by saying when as much as a quarter of the apps Android users are accessing can read email and contacts, this is an area of great concern when these users are in the work place.
All of this scrutiny comes in with the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI. This department has discovered malware that specifically targets the Android OS, and its users. In response to these newly discovered threats, companies like T-Mobile are preloading their Android devices with a free security app. The company hopes this will discourage and deflect the onslaught of malware and viruses that Android users have to deal with now.
With the coming Christmas season, and the high threat level from identity theft, Android users would benefit from reading the ULA from any app they want to download to their device. The few extra minutes it takes to read through the agreement can give added peace of mind and possibly stop spyware from getting personal or sensitive information. Now, more than any other time of the year, fraud is a danger.