September 23, 2015

Many apps use unnecessary hidden data on Android

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An app

Half of the communication requests of the 500 most popular Android applications have no effect on the user experience, according to the MIT study reveals.

So far, we know that applications have installed on your phone send a significant amount of data in the background, as they need to be working continually to send notifications, upgrade and do not take so long to refresh the information when we open.

However, the problem is not so much the amount of data that can consume, but in the time that establish communications with the outside. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says half of these occasions do not influence (or yes, but little) in the user experience.

To reach this conclusion, they analyzed the functioning of the hundred most popular apps on Google Play. The authors of the analysis state that “can be a good reason for this covert communication”, arguing that “not trying to say that we must eliminate this practice,” only ask for a little more transparency for the user.

MIT does not ensure that the matter is suspected hundred percent. Many data sent are analytical data such as fault and performance reports, which also happens in iOS or Windows Phone. This helps the app to run more effectively and have background information if we open when there is no connection.

However, some concern does exist because, according to the authors, developers do not count how many treat this communication we generate and how to safeguard that there is no risk to our privacy.

The diagnosis of MIT

Generally, the source of my code is not available to the public and often hide details in the execution of programs, programming what is known as “obfuscation”. But they all share a basic standard Android procedures that determine how they interact with the hardware of a phone.

For the latter, the researchers played almost exact copies of 47 of the 100 most popular operating system for Google Apps. So validated their analysis of the communications channels open to each run.

After defused communication channels identified as hidden tools and analyzed original and modified versions of programs.

In 30 of the 47, no differences between the two versions, in three cases the difference was noted in nine minor and the problem was the disconnection of the ads. Only five stopped working altogether.

But … who’s on the other side in those hidden communications? Researchers have an example that does not affect normal use. An app of American supermarket chain sends information from barcodes that scan your clients to a server that appears to be linked to Ebay.

What can we do?

Well, in principle, little. If you do not want to send usage reports we must find some adjustment to disable each and every one of the apps you have installed. If you have one!

The good news is that Android 6.0 Marshmallow has administrator permissions that grant applications , an extra layer of security and control functions need to see what our phone: store your contacts, access the camera or the microphone, knowing the terminal status, location, etc …

It can be done individually in “application information” or operate in ‘Settings / Applications / Advanced Options / Application permissions’. The problem is that this version of Android is only implemented in less than 1% of devices …

One option already exists for several versions of Android settings used to control the amount of data. We put our billing cycle, consumer warnings and castrate the apps we do not want our data rate bleed in the background.

Category : Apps

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