NordVPN has released new research that shows 87 per cent of Android apps and 60 per cent of iOS apps are collecting information from users that is not needed for the apps to run.
Accepting the Terms and Conditions required to use an app may result in information being gathered and used against the users’ interests.
NordVPN, the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, analysed the most popular apps world-wide and what information they gathered. Their report shows that up to 14 per cent of apps are collecting more unnecessary than necessary data for the app to run.
Only eight per cent collect no unnecessary data.
The report also shows that on average every fifth permission request was not required for the app to function properly. It even showed that 42 per cent of all the apps ask for permissions for user activities outside the app. This means that the app is asking to collect information from users across different websites and applications.
User’s location permissions are requested by 37% of the researched apps, 35% of the apps request camera permissions, 22% request the photo gallery and 16% request the microphone.
Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN, said:
“A significant number of mobile apps that we use daily request access to device functions unrelated to their performance. And most users give the app license to spy without even reading the terms and conditions.
“Users should always consider whether the app needs certain data to do its job before tapping ‘Accept,’ because collected data could be used against our interest.
“It’s especially important to be more attentive to some categories of apps which are more intrusive, such as social media or messaging apps.”
Apps with the highest unnecessary permissions
According to the report’s findings, social media and messaging apps ask for the highest number of permissions compared to other apps. They are also the most significant group for asking for unnecessary permissions.
Social networking apps, on average, request ten unnecessary permissions, navigating apps ask for nine, and messaging apps five.
Apps with the lowest unnecessary permissions
Gaming apps on Android devices, on average, ask for less than one unneeded permission. Food and drink apps on iOS devices ask for roughly less than three unnecessary permissions.
Productivity apps are the safest in regards to unneeded permissions. The report found that they almost never collect data they don’t require.
How can I protect my privacy?
Warmenhoven has offered several preventive measures to protect your information and privacy from apps.
Users should only download apps from official stores, unofficial stores run the risk of the app being modified by criminals.
Knowing what data permissions you are allowing can also protect your information. Only allow ones that make sense to you and review what already installed apps have access to what privileges. Limiting your location permissions can keep you safe too.
Deleting apps that you don’t use can stop them from collecting your data. Even if you are not using it, it is most likely still gathering your information.
Lastly, don’t automatically sign in with social media accounts. This is a quick way to use an app, as most ask you to make an account before using them. However, logging in with your social media gives the app access to your account and it can collect data from it.
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