Tech Tuesday: Flashlight Apps Shine a Light on Privacy Issues

The very app you use to find your way in the dark is the same one cyberspies could be using to shine a light on your personal information. Snoopwall privacy experts say flashlight apps, like Brightest Flashlight, tap into your unique smartphone ID, camera, and location to gain access to your data.

But Brightest Flashlight isn’t the only app you should watch out for. Carnegie Mellon researchers conducted a study on surprising Android apps that require privacy permissions. The highest ranked apps include:

1. Toss It

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2. Angry Birds

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3. Talking Tom Fre

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4. Dictionary.com

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5. Mouse Trap

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6. Horoscope

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The same question is on all of our minds–Why exactly does “Toss It” need my location for me to throw a virtual ball of paper into a virtual trashcan? Before you smash your phone in a privacy induced panic, take a breath. The apps are mainly collecting your data to share with advertising networks. But keep in mind, the more apps that have access to your information, the higher the chance that hackers could get their hands on your data.

We suggest you check before you click. The same Carnegie Mellon team who conducted the app study set up PrivacyGrade, a website that grades the privacy settings of smartphone apps. You can also set app permissions on a case-by-case basis with Android iOS versions. To deny a permission, click on “Settings”, select Privacy then choose a permission (for example GPS) and swipe the slider from “on” to “off”. Better safe than sorry.



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