Almost everyone has a flashlight app installed on their smartphone. They are among the most practically useful apps to have, but a series of recent reports indicate that many flashlight apps have far greater nefarious capabilities. The FTC charged one developer last year with deceiving their customers and sending precise GPS location data and unique device identifiers to ad networks, even if the customers opted out of location tracking. Currently available flashlight apps may also be providing advertisers with detailed information about your physical whereabouts, web browsing history, and contacts.
In fact, SnoopWall reports that ten of the most popular flashlight applications have access to all of this information and more. A recent New York Times article suggests only installing apps from the Google Play store and reading an app’s permissions list and user agreement before installing it. While these are good safety measures that should be taken when installing any app, they may not be enough to keep your private information private. SnoopWall suggests that users examine the permissions granted to apps that are currently installed, since malicious flashlight apps can use their access to a phone’s internet connection to install additional spyware in the form of remote access Trojans.
Concerned individuals can follow the steps in SnoopWall’s threat report to increase their mobile security, and learn more about the privacy nuances of their mobile operating system at the following pages for Google, Apple, and Windows Phone.
Brand owners can check whether there are unlicensed developers creating apps for their brand that have similarly invasive tendencies. IP Lasso provides free consultations on this matter in order to give brand owners a good idea of the dangers faced by their brand and their customers.