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Report: Free Android Apps Pose a Threat to Privacy

Many free apps have permission to make calls, take photos or send texts, when they don't need that functionality.


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A new report from Juniper Networks concludes that free Android apps pose a much greater security risk than paid apps. According to Juniper, free Android apps are 401 percent more likely to track user location and 314 percent more likely to access user address books than paid apps. In addition, many free apps ask for permission to do things they don't really need to do. For example, 83.88 percent of free gambling apps solicit permission to use the device's camera, and 84.51 can send SMS messages.

“An application that can clandestinely initiate a phone call could be used to silently listen to ambient conversations within hearing distance of a mobile device,” said Juniper's Dan Hoffman. He added that disreputable mobile development firms could use the camera to take photos without the user's knowledge. “Further, the potential for stealth SMS messages or calls can have monetary repercussions by communicating with services that will subsequently charge a fee, such as sending premium SMS messages,” he said.

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