Do you know which apps are accessing your personal data?
Antivirus software specialist Bitdefender has found that nearly 19% of iOS apps access your address book without your knowledge — or your consent — when you’re using them, and 41% track your location. What’s most concerning is over 40% of them don’t encrypt your data once it has been collected.
That’s all going to change when iOS 6 makes its debut later this year, however.
Should iOS 6’s new privacy messages actually look like this? (Image courtesy of nCircle.)
Following several security concerns over the way in which iOS apps access and record our data — with the recent Path scandal being the most notable — Apple decided to implement some new privacy settings in iOS 6, which allow you to fine-tune how much of your personal data each of your apps has access to.
Every time you open up a new app that wants access to your contacts, calendars, or any other data, you have to give that app your permission. However, one security director believes this approach will annoy iOS users more than it helps them, and that the new privacy settings are designed to protect Apple from lawsuits rather than its users from data theft.
Clueful promises to identify "misdemeanant apps on your iPhone."
There has recently been a lot of concern into the way in which our iOS apps access our personal data, and then what they do with it once it has been collected. Since the whole Path debacle in particular, users seem to be more concerned by the issue than ever before.
BitDefender is one security firm looking to capitalize upon that concern with a new app called Clueful, which promises reveal what each of your apps is doing with your data and identify the “misdemeanant apps on your iPhone.”
This unique string of alphanumeric text attached to every iPhone and iPad is the source of a lot of privacy concerns.
Many of us feel a deep personal connection with our iPhones, and small wonder: the average person’s smartphone knows more about them than their spouse or significant other. Our iPhones hold our contacts, photos, videos, music, banking data, texts, emails, voicemails, web logins, apps and more. We use our phones to pay our bills, send texts to our girlfriends, check-in to our favorite club, play games with friends, and much more besides.
That makes our iOS devices a juicy target for tracking, and what most people aren’t aware of is that, historically, Apple has made it very easy to anyone to tell what you do with your iPhone. It’s called a Unique Device Identifier or UDID. Every iOS device has one, and using it, third-parties have been able to put together vast databases tracking almost everything you do with your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
The good news for privacy advocates is that the days of UDID are numbered. Following the recent stink the U.S. Congress raised over how iOS apps handle a user’s personal information without permission, Apple has given an ultimatum to third-party App Store developers: either stop tracking UDIDs or get kicked out of the App Store. Now ad networks and developers are scrambling to agree on a way to track your device in the future.
But are these replacements any good, or do they pose even bigger privacy concerns than UDIDs did?
Now that Mark Zuckerberg controls your hipster, vintage-inspired photos that you took with Instagram, you might be feeling weighed down with the fear that your favorite photography app will see some major changes. I cried for a few minutes, then I realized that I never used Instagram to edit photos because its filters were actually very limited and pretty crappy. There’s tons of better apps out there. If for whatever reason you’re scared to stick with the new Instagram controlled by Facebook, there are plenty of alternatives to Instagram… and in many ways most of them are better. Take a look at these five awesome Instagram alternatives.
Social network Path came under great scrutiny after it was discovered that the app would upload a user’s entire address book to Path’s servers. The worst part, for iOS users at least, was Path never let them know. After a public apology, Path worked diligently to remedy the issue and came up with a few enhancements to the way they handle user privacy. Today, Path has rolled out an update to both its Android and iOS apps reflecting the changes and assuring users that they take their privacy seriously (or at least now they do).
Path's iPhone app was recently updated to ask permission when accessing your contacts. Image courtesy of 37prime.news
The app privacy scandal caused by Path’s iPhone app is still leaving its mark, as members of the U.S. Congress have sent out letters to 33 prominent App Store developers to better understand the issue. “We want to better understand the information collection and use policies and practices of apps for Apple’s mobile devices with a social element.”
Apps like the official Facebook and Twitter clients are among the list. Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member G. K. Butterfield have requested that the developers behind such apps reveal how Apple imposes its privacy standards and how the standards are implemented.
We finally have control over our contacts in Mountain Lion.
In addition to the new features we detailed earlier today, Apple’s second OS X Mountain Lion beta adds a nifty security feature that will prevent third-party applications from accessing your contacts without your permission.
Apple has always taken privacy very seriously. When it was discovered that popular app Path secretly uploaded an iPhone user’s entire address book to its servers, the media reacted very strongly and Apple was forced to get involved. Path was violating Apple’s terms of agreement, and it was discovered that many other apps in the App Store had been doing the same thing for quite some time. Apple said that it would clarify the privacy issue for end users with a future iOS update.
High-profile meetings take place at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California all the time, but the public rarely gets to hear about what is said behind closed doors. As it turns out, Path CEO Dave Morin was summoned to Cupertino by Apple CEO Tim Cook to talk about the recent privacy scandal his app caused.
A new version of social networking app Path is now available in the App Store for iPhone users. Path 2.1 features several new features and improvements, including a Shazam-like ‘Music Match’ tool for identifying music playing around you.
The app’s camera features have also been improved with focus and exposure options and a new setting called “Pow!” for creating comic book-style pics. Nike+ integration has been added to let you journal your runs in Path.