Monday, October 24, 2016

Your personal data is at risk! Apps & websites not so trustworthy

Hold on...Smartphone apps & websites could be leaking your information!

According to a recent study, many of the popular smartphone applications and websites that we use could be leaking our personal information. The study found that platforms downloaded on iOS and Android, such as those used for advertising and data analytics, can put our personal identification information at risk. Degree of this leakage varies among different sites and apps.

Initially, researchers expected that apps would be leaking more information than websites since they get direct access to user information. However, the study found 40% cases wherein websites oozed out more data than applications. It was observed that platforms such as those used by business analytics and advertising firms sent encrypted details to a third party for authentication. Such authentication/ identity management is, however, essential in events of bug problem. Although the intention of service providers are legitimate, there are chances that passwords and other information may be used for unethical purposes. Customers have no idea about how and where  their information is being shared. Researchers are assuming that these service providers have signed proper legal contracts with the third parties in order to protect customer information.

Following this study, researchers have come up with a user-friendly interactive website that will keep users informed and help them in picking the best online services. On this website, users will be able to see the rate of leakage of 50 free online services, ranging from Zillow to Airbnb. Services catering to fields like music, news, travel, business, entertainment, weather, etc. have been listed and ratings will be shown as per privacy preferences of the user. Only those services that  have both a website and an app have been included.

This new research is likely to give birth to a hot discussion regarding customer information safety  between users and service providers. The complete study report will be disclosed at the Internet Measurement Conference 2016 to be held in California’s Santa Monica.