Research: 20 Percent of Android Apps Steal Private Data

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About one-in-five (or 20 percent) of third-party Android apps available through its marketplace can steal and share private user data, researchers said Tuesday. Akin to spyware, the apps can place calls and send text messages without the owners’ knowledge.

As a result of the growth of smartphones and associated stores, “applications are currently available that have the potential to cause serious harm to devices, customers and to the broader cellular network,” Daniel V. Hoffman, technology chief for SMobile Systems, an Android security vendor.

The report, although taken with a grain of salt because of the source, does cause Apple fans to reconsider their opposition to Cupertino’s oft-criticized app approval methods.

“Dozens of these Android apps — and don’t forget, there are 48,000 Android apps in all, with just under 10,000 risky ones — are able to access the kind of data that spyware likes to grab,” according to a Computerworld blog. In April, the Android Marketplace reached 50,000 apps, although it remains a far cry from Apple’s 200,000+ entries.

The cautionary report comes as an increasing number of developers see Android as a promising platform. Earlier today, we reported a survey found developers prefer Android for its openness and future outlook.

[via Computerworld and CNET]