Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Your phone is probably spying on you

Your phone is probably spying on you

People have been concerned that their phones have been physically watching them and eavesdropping on their conversation for years, and much has changed to stop that from happening.

"We didn't see any evidence that people's conversations are being recorded secretly", Choffnes said.

So, a team of scientists finally made a decision to run an experiment to uncover the real truth, researchers from the Northeastern University ran a year-long research that closely monitored more than 17,000 android applications, they also included many apps from Facebook and around 8000 of these apps were sending back user data to the social networking company.

The researchers concluded after running their test on about 17,260 popular Android apps that also included Facebook.

The unusual practice they started to see was that screenshots and video recordings of what people were doing in apps were being sent to third party domains.

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The study, which was first reported by Gizmodo, only focused on Android apps, while future research will look at iOS app permissions as well as mobile-app interactions with Internet-of-things devices. Probably not. The researchers found no evidence to suggest your smartphone's microphone is being used to tap into your conversations, though they have held back from saying the study is 100 percent conclusive.

It's a conspiracy theory that's been nurtured for a long time: someone mentions taking a holiday in the vicinity of their phone and the next thing you know, they're being shown ads about flights and hotel accommodation on Facebook. One app in particular sent quite a bit of information to an analytics company. For instance, food delivery app GoPuff and mobile beta-testing platform TestFairy were singled out as leaking video or screenshots, although it was unclear whether the leaks were inadvertent or nefarious. In one case, the recording had the customer's zip code. Turns out it's fairly common practice for free apps to take screenshots and videos of your in-app activity. After the researchers contacted GoPuff, the company added disclosure of this policy to its privacy policy, and claimed that it removed the API from its latest builds.

Google - maker of the Android operating system - said after reviewing the Northeastern researchers' findings it had determined that a part of Appsee's services may put some developers at risk of violating its policies. The Google Play policy mandates that the app must disclose how it collects user data.

The apps record your screen activities, and the same are being sent to third-party entities and Facebook for your personalized advertisements. The data, which consisted of passwords, messages and other personal information, was found to be sent to a data analytics company called Appsee.

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