Today, Apple apparently ended a brewing controversy on how a user’s contact list data is accessed. Surprisingly, recent research indicates that unauthorized, jailbroken apps are better at respecting private information than Apple-approved apps.
The research, conducted by the University of California at Santa Barbara and the International Security Systems Lab, tackled the issue of how and where user data was transmitted by iOS apps. According to the research, one in five free official apps sent information back to the developers that could possibly be used to identify a user.
To compare the privacy protection of Cydia and official apps, the researchers built a tool that examined the information being transmitted by 825 App Store apps and 526 Cydia apps. Of the official App Store apps, 21 percent uploaded at least the Unique Device Identifier of a phone, compared to only 4 percent of the Cydia apps.
Manuel Egele, a researcher at UCSB, offered an interesting explanation on some of the findings to Forbes:
“The people who run Cydia seem very conscious of what information is available and can be accessed,” says Egele. “The applications you get from Cydia are geared toward more privacy-aware people.”
Cydia creator Jay Freeman was even more direct when also speaking to Forbes:
“If you care about this kind of thing, you should jailbreak your phone,” says Freeman. “Instead of Apple making decisions about what’s good and bad, you decide. People think jailbreaking is about deciding that things Apple doesn’t like are good. But it also allows you to decide that things Apple likes are bad. We provide you the tools to block the functionality you don’t believe apps should have on your phone.”
What do you think about this research? Will you turn to jailbreaking, like the estimated 10-15 million other Cydia users, to better protect your private information?