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Mobile Apps: The Privacy Insanity

Security expert Troy Hunt took a look at three apps (one of them being the Paypal one) and the results are shocking: While they were all way too invasive most of the tested apps had serious security issues as well.

When it comes to your privacy especially Paypal seems to want far more information from you than necessary. Hunt took the time to point out the extra personal requests on his blog:

  1. BSSID: This is the unique device ID of my home router which is the same as the MAC address. Google got themselves into hot water for siphoning this up via their mapping vehicles a little while back because that one unique ID ties back to my precise device.
  2. Device model and name: You could argue that comparable information is sent via your browser courtesy of the user agent, but that would only apply to the model and not the name of the device which is explicitly not passed in requests. This is private – it’s my device name.
  3. Internal IP address: The internal address assigned to my iPhone via the router when it associated to the network. This can give a sense of how many devices are on the network.
  4. Location: There’s my lat and long again and for all the same reasons I don’t really want to share it with Aussie Farmers, I also don’t really want to share it with PayPal.
  5. SSID: We’re talking about the name of my internal network here. I name mine in a non-identifying fashion because frankly, I want to keep it somewhat private and that’s from those in my immediate vicinity, let alone those on the other side of the world.
  6. Storage space: Ok, so it’s a 128GB iPhone, do they really need to know that? Back to the user agent comparison, this is not the sort of stuff that’s typically “leaked” by generic requests to the web because it’s an internal metric of no external consequence.”

In addition to that the security of two of the tested apps was so bad that he concluded: “Perhaps I should just stick to the browser that doesn’t leak this class of data yet one would assume is still sufficiently secure.”

Do you want to find out more? Then take a look at the whole in-depth article.

PR & Social Media Manager @ Avira |Gamer. Geek. Tech addict.