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Lookout's App Genome Project warns about sketchy apps you may have already downloaded

Tim Stevens
07.29.10
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If you're an iPhone user, the only privacy notice you'll see from an app regards your current location -- as much a warning about the associated battery hit from the GPS pinging as anything. If you're an Android user, however, things are different, with a tap-through dialog showing you exactly what each app will access on your phone. But, do you read them? You should, with Lookout running a sort of survey across 300,000 apps on those two platforms, finding that many access personal information even though they seemingly don't need to. One particularly scary instance, an app called Jackeey Wallpaper on Android, aggregates your browsing history, text messages, could get your voicemail password, and even your SIM ID and beams it all to a server in China. That this app has been downloaded millions thousands of times is a little disconcerting, but it's not just Android users that have to fear, as even more iPhone than Android apps take a look through your contact infos. What to do? Well, be careful what you download to start, on Android read those privacy warnings... and we're sure Lookout wouldn't mind if you took this opportunity to download its security app.

Update: We received a note from Jussi Nieminen, who indicated the data fields being retrieved, as reported by VentureBeat, are incorrect. Texting and browser history are apparently not retrieved, but your phone number, phone ID, and voicemail fields are. And, since it's not unheard of for voicemail entries to include a password when setup on a phone, it's possible they could wind up with that too. Also, the popularity of the app was apparently misstated, with actual downloads somewhere south of 250,000.

Update 2: Kevin, one of the Black Hat speakers from Lookout, wrote us to let us know that the full details on the wallpaper apps have been posted here, if you'd like to read. Meanwhile, estimations of just how many people have downloaded this particular wallpaper app are all over the place, ranging from as low as 50,000 to over four million.

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