In news that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, most popular mobile applications collect sensitive personal data and share it with third parties, new research has claimed.
TechShielder researchers analyzed apps with the most downloads in 2021, sifting through their privacy policies to better understand how they handle data harvesting, storing, and sharing.
As it turns out, 60% of the world’s most used mobile apps harvest, and keep, data generated through people’s private conversations. Furthermore, 80% collect data on messages their users send and receive. Finally, all apps gather at least the basic information, such as phone numbers, or email addresses.
Storing cookies and user-generated content
Besides sensitive data, most apps also look to obtain cookies, small files that hold important information, such as login details. Almost two-thirds (60%) store data on user-generated content, while half (50%) have access to the photos and videos users keep on their endpoints.
Society’s awareness of online privacy has skyrocketed in the past couple of years, ever since the general public got a better understanding of just how much money businesses earn from user data. As most companies transformed into data companies, the number of data breaches spiked, as well.
That, consequently, led to more fraud and ultimately - more money lost. Law enforcement and legislators joined the fray, looking to protect the consumers with better legal frameworks (think GDPR) and faster reactions.
Today, consumers are caught between sharing data with companies and getting more personalized offers and an overall better user experience on one hand, and keeping their private lives private and safe from potential cybercriminals engaging in identity theft.
Businesses are caught between gathering data and using it to beat the competition on one hand, and cybercriminals looking to exploit their data protection weaknesses on the other.
- Here's our rundown of the best privacy tools out there
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.