Android is the most installed mobile operating system in the world, but concerns about its security gaps refuse to go away, with the latest report claiming to reveal that six popular apps have been secretly harvesting user data and generating dodgy ad clicks.
That’s according to recent research conducted by Buzzfeed in partnership with security outfits Check Point, Method Media Intelligence, and ESET.
The Android apps in question are all developed by Chinese publisher DO Global, with the wall of shame reading: Selfie Camera, Total Cleaner, Smart Cooler, RAM Master, AIO Flashlight and Omni Cleaner.
The investigation found that all six have all been instigating ad clicks in the background of Android devices, even if the apps themselves aren’t open.
This means that they are likely to drain system resources, most notably battery life, unbeknownst to the user. Unwitting ad clicks can also dishonestly contribute to revenue reports, but the most important issue at stake here seems to be privacy.
Many ads, when clicked, collect user data. So assuming the research is accurate (and it seems a reputable report to our eye) this would represent a flagrant violation of both European GDRP policies and Google’s own Play Store rules – both of which require users to opt-in to data collection by apps.
Google has now removed the allegedly dodgy applications from the Play Store, with those who have already installed the programs urged to manually uninstall them immediately.
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“Developers are required to disclose the collection of personal data, and only use permissions that are needed to deliver the features within the app. If an app violates our policies, we take action that can include banning a developer from being able to publish on Play,” Google told Buzzfeed in a statement.
The research also claims that DO Global was hiding its country of origin, potentially in a bid to evade detection by Google’s Play Store overlords, and it’s possible that the publisher will face further punishment from the Mountain View-based tech giant.
Have you installed any of these questionable Android apps? Let us know on social media @TrustedReviews.