SMobile released a report that calls into question the safety of using apps on Android OS. However, the story here is more about what happened after the initial report was filed than anything else and, in the end, makes Apple look that much better.
Initially, SMobile made it clear in its whitepaper on Android OS that under certain conditions up to 1 in 5 Android apps may be pulling sensitive personal data from the app’s users without them actually knowing about it.
It’s conclusions are scary: about 20 percent of the 48,000 apps in the Android marketplace allow for the third-party application to access sensitive or private data. This included the ability to make calls or send SMS messages, again without the user knowing about it.
Rather quickly, a Google spokesman criticized the report as follows:
This report falsely suggests that Android users don’t have control over which apps access their data,” the Google spokesman said on Wednesday morning. “Not only must each Android app get users’ permission to access sensitive information, but developers must also go through billing background checks to confirm their real identities, and we will disable any apps that are found to be malicious.
Clearly reacting to Google’s opinion, SMobile toned down their conclusions, but only slightly so with the following comments:
SMobile stands by the data unearthed in our study of the Android market. The key findings remain that thousands of applications available on this market are granted permissions that have the potential of placing the mobile device, sensitive user data and carrier networks at risk.
Essentially, SMobile concludes that many Android users are not completely aware of what they are agreeing to when they download apps and as such, may set themselves up to providing sensitive data.
In conclusion, SMobile said:
Notwithstanding, the risk resides around the fact that users are not always knowledgeable enough to make decisions about the permissions they are allowing, nor do they take the time or give the proper credence to understand the implications. The most fundamental security concerns involving technology and the spread of Malware are around the poor decisions that humans make.
While Apple has been criticized for its “closed” App Store policy to get apps approved, its procedures seem warranted when you compare it to the competition. Regretfully, there are a lot of cell phone consumers that make quick and uninformed purchasing decisions and as such, could be opening themselves up to data breaches. SMobile’s report, slightly changed notwithstanding, shows which system is safer.