Almost everyone understands that social networking apps track your location. Many see this trade-off as worthwhile, and think little else about how dare favorite apps impacted their online privacy.
By now, I hope you have heard the Internet adage that if it’s free, you are the product. Nowhere is this true or than in the world of apps. How much of you is being sold will depend upon the app itself, and you need to pay attention to this. Secondary aspect of all this is messaging apps and their levels of encryption. We will look at that first, and follow-up by working down the 6 worst apps for online privacy.
The worst apps for online privacy
Messaging apps with poor encryption
If there’s one feature what should be common amongst all messaging apps these days it should be encryption. Any amount of encryption will help protect your communications, keeping them between you and the receiver. This includes the things you say, the attachments you send, in the pictures that you send. And we all know what kind of pictures you are sending over these messaging apps…
Amnesty International put together an infographic displaying the most popular messaging apps and their encryption:
What this infographic shows is pretty shocking. Skype and snapped chat are perhaps the two most popular messaging apps in the world right now. Both have absolutely no encryption at all. Any man in the middle attack, commonly done on public Wi-Fi networks, would be able to intervene and intercept anything you said over these messaging apps. The only exception would be if you were using a VPN while you were using it, as it would add that layer of encryption.
If you truly value having private communications, you need to choose one to be messaging apps above which either has encryption as a default, or as a choice which you select. I know you’ve cynical people are thinking right now. You’re thinking ‘I don’t have anything to hide, Why should I bother?’ This, of course, is exactly what hackers love to hear. Somewhere in your messages you have given away some piece of information that will come back to haunt you. Use one of the apps above, and play it safe with an extra layer of encryption from a VPN.
The 6 apps that do not take privacy seriously
1: My Talking Tom, and all other ‘Tom’ apps
It is not with some small smugness that I include this horrid app on this list. If you have kids, or silly girlfriend, you have seen this app at one point or another. the app lets you adopt and take care of the virtual kitten.Which seems innocent enough, until you realize…
The secondary function of the app is to allow you to speak words into it which your ‘Tom’ then speaks. This is super annoying. What you may not realize, however, is that in the settings it is taking the audio from your child’s microphone and sending it to advertisers.
The app is also connected to a eight different targeted ad libraries. That is a whole lot of people are going to know whole lot of things about your child, plus they’re being recoreded. Why do you still have this on your child’s phone? It is easily one of the worst apps for online privacy.
2: Fruit Ninja
I don’t know what it is, but the most annoying apps always seem to be the worst for privacy. Pretty much everyone on earth was playing this ridiculous game, but how many of them realize that it was selling them out to 7 different ad networks?
What’s more is how many people realized that it requires a connection to the Internet just so it can better access targeted advertising? It doesn’t need it for anything else, it requires a connection to the Internet just so they can show you ads.
It’s other two worse privacy violations are:
- Find other accounts on the device, these accounts would be your social profiles and anything else on your phone that it felt like accessing.
- Altering and writing to your USB storage.
That’s right, all of this so that you can slice up virtual fruit. I don’t think there’s an emoticon for this emotion, but it would be a mix of a thinking face, rage, and a type of laughter which is a bit demeaning.
3: Clash of Kings
Yet another popular game app with atrocious privacy settings. Not only Will this app be using your Internet connection for mobile analytics, and targeted advertising, but it gets into some serious phone identities issues:
- It can identify your phone signal, carrier, device ID, and your phone number. it’s storing your phone number is perhaps the worst, this gives hackers and those Robocallers a place to find your number.
- It can also access account information stored on the phone. While this is likely just for the games engine, it’s not clearly defined what exactly it’s accessing. Again, this is another access point that can be exploited by hackers.
This game reminds me, once again, why I have not played very many video games since the PlayStation 2.
Here it is, the infamous privacy app which is not so private. The whole point of Snapchat was that the things you send over at our deleted within a certain amount of time, usually just 10 seconds. as we discovered over the massive Snapchat hack, these things did not actually disappear. What’s more, you could still find them on the phone If you looked, they just did not show up in your actual snap chat app.
What’s more, there was absolutely nothing stopping someone from taking a photograph of that photograph while it was active. staff chat was a good idea, it was just used very ineffectively. You can’t tell people that their information is private and then start on servers. It’s continued success is definitely a testament to either people’s ability to forgive, Or their ability to not care about their privacy.
5: Flashlight apps
What sort of information does the flashlight app need? Apparently, it needs to know everything. the two most popular apps flash light iOS, and brightest flashlight for Android, were notorious for how much location tracking they did.
What’s more, it is completely useless to have this on your iPhone: all you have to do is swipe up to turn your entire phone screened into a flashlight. This is been available on every iPhone since iOS 7. For android users, I just opened up my lock screen and keep pushing one of the buttons randomly for as long as I need a light. It would work even better if I had a white lock screen, but I like my photo of my girlfriend there.
6: Antivirus & Mobile Security
This is pretty disappointing to have to write, but this antivirus app for Android does not do anything to protect your privacy. Yes, it works great as an antivirus, and it does good work as a security tool, but as far as privacy goes it’s awful.
Yes, of course it has access to your full network and everything you do on the Internet. That is to be expected. Where crosses the line is when it starts identifying your phone number, and other phone status information. It targets your precise location for future customer analysis, what’s it honestly doesn’t need. And for some absolutely bizarre reason you can access your camera to take pictures and videos.
Honestly, if this app was not for antivirus I likely would’ve not included it. But the fact that it claims to be for your mobile security, and needs access to things that honestly does not need access to, I had to include.
The worst apps for online privacy
We all know that any time we are taking an app for free that there is a trade-off somewhere. If you don’t know that yet, please go analog.The six apps which I have looked at the above are no different than most other apps, but they take this invasion of your privacy to a slightly more ridiculous level. Avoid them, unless you desperately need to spice up virtual fruit, or pretend that you are a kitty cat.
The messaging apps which we looked at are another part of your online privacy. There are certainly more secure options available, use them if you truly want to have private messages between you and your friends.