Yes, you read it right. According to a latest study by Appthority, the most popular free apps on Apple’s iOS are sharing significantly more user data than the most popular free apps on Google’s Android. Despite Android being infamous as a less secure platform, report found that it was iOS apps that are allowed to engage in more risky behaviors.
Appthority’s App Report for February 2013 examined the top performing free mobile apps across both iOS and Android, as free mobile apps are more likely to rely ad networks and analytics companies as a means of generating revenue. They examined top 50 free apps in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store each for the potentially harmful use of personal information.
The study found that all (100 percent) 50 of the top free iOS apps and 92 percent of the top 50 free Android apps — send and receive data without encryption. iOS apps get more access to user data, with 54 percent having access to a user’s contact list, 60 percent of the top apps tracking user location, 60 percent sharing data with ad or analytics networks, and 14 percent accessing users’ calendars.
On the other hand, 50 percent of Android apps shared data with ad networks, while 42 percent tracked user locations. Only 20 percent of Android apps had access to users’ contact lists, and none were found to access the calendar.
Although the study does not address the impact of mobile malware, it should be noted that mobile malware only affects only one percent of apps. Also some of the categories in the study like single sign-on support aren’t dangerous in and of themselves; they provide gateways to possibly dangerous behavior for personal data within the apps. As the larger concern, the study concludes that we should be focusing on how mobile apps handle personal information and how much the company values one’s privacy.
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