300,000 Mobile Apps Stealing Personal Data

A recent study has found that hundreds of thousands of applications for smartphones steal personal user information and send it to third parties.

At the on-going Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas, US-based security firm Lookout revealed the results of its 'App Genome Project' report, demonstrating that around 300,000 applications for both Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating systems, were stealing user data.

The study found that 33 per cent of free applications for iPhone, 29 per cent of those for Android, were capable of accessing the user's location. Researchers also revealed tha 14 per cent of iPhone and 8 per cent Android applications were capable of accessing users' contact lists.

The company explained that most of the privacy breaches from free iPhone and Android applications were caused by the mobile advertisement kits installed in the applications.

The advertising kits allow the developers to gain extra revenue by sending personal information to third parties so that they can provide targeted advertisements.

Lookout also said that a rogue application posing as a free wallpaper customisation tool in Google's Android Market stole personal data, including text messages, location, browsing history and voicemail passwords from users' phones, and sent it to a website operating from Shenzhen, China.