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Study: iOS apps grab personal data more often than Android

Risk-assessment company Appthority has released its App Reputation Report (PDF), which reports on a study of how iOS and Android apps handle a user's personal data. The study looked at 50 free iOS apps and 50 free Android apps and found that the iOS apps were more likely to collect and share user data like location, email addresses and contacts. Some highlights from the report:

  • The vast majority of free apps send and receive data to outside parties without encryption.
  • 96 percent of total apps share data with advertising networks and/or analytics companies.
  • 79 percent of the top 50 free iOS and Android apps are associated with risky behaviors or privacy issues.
  • Overall, iOS apps exhibited more risky behaviors than Android apps.
  • Entertainment apps were the worst offenders out of the top five categories, with the highest number of apps that track for location and share data with advertising networks and/or analytics companies.
  • While 14 percent of iOS apps had access to a user's calendar, none of the Android apps had similar access.
  • More than half of the total apps track for location by accessing the device's GPS or using other location-tracking methods.
  • More than 80 percent of apps across categories come from different unique, individual developers.
It should be noted that using only 50 free apps from out of the 700,000 in the App Store is a relatively small sample. With such a small sample size, it's hard to say how accurate the report is. And while the data does suggest that Android apps handle a user's personal data more appropriately, it's also important to note that the report found some Android apps (though "less than 1 percent") that host malware -- as opposed to no iOS apps that do.

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