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A new app, Snoopwall, could offfer Android users some protection against apps which listen to user data – and transmit it – a problem that plagues the operating system, by allowing users to monitor apps, and disable their ability to transmit or store data.
As reported by The Register, the app was created to allow users an extra layer of protection, as well as the permission control over apps natively by Android – ie the fact that users are expected to “police” the data use of apps themselves, reading documents which can be quite long and technical before installing.
“As Facebook users have noted over the last few weeks, for example, their Android app is now demanding access to SMS / MMS, calendar events, and WiFi control,” commented The Register.
The company describes it as “counterveillance anti-spyware software for consumers” and says, “This privacy and security feature lets users disable the ability of individual apps to access sensitive, personally identifiable information such as geographic location and address book data.”
It’s relatively common for seemingly innocuous apps to hide malicious functions in the “permissions” screen – a list of data which the app requires access to. A We Live Security guide to spotting ‘bad’ apps from good can be found here.
The app was launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and offers protection which the makers claim works with existign AV apps such as ESET’s Mobile Security and Antivirus.
“SnoopWall is compatible with your existing Antivirus and Firewall,” the company says. SnoopWall blocks covert data exfiltration (stealing your private information, secretly).”
Google briefly added a feature which allowed users more control of teh data apps could access, but withdrew it, prompting the Electronic Frontier Foundation to comment, “The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people’s data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.”
Dark Reading describes the app as one of an increasing number of privacy-protecting apps for Android.
A We Live Security guide to keeping data safe on any new Android can be found here.
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security