1.7 Million Smartphone Apps Analyzed, and guess what they concluded

Need another reason to make your smartphone into a jigsaw puzzle with a laser cutter?

The article says it best: “Network security company Juniper Networks investigated 1.7 million mobile apps. It concluded that free apps cost us our privacy, expose us unnecessarily, and most app permissions are unjustified.”

Free apps collect way more data than paid ones — no big surprise. But here’s the really weird and creepy thing. Upwards of 90% of apps that track their users aren’t using that tracking data for ads. They’re not even serving ads. And nobody seems to know why that data is being collected or where it’s ending up.


“Juniper Networks’ Mobile Threat Center (MTC) analyzed over 1.7 million apps on the Google Play market from March 2011 to September 2012.

Juniper found that most app users are being tracked, surveilled and put at risk for exposure, and this activity is disturbingly unjustified by the majority of app makers.

Juniper wrote, “We found a significant number of applications contain permissions and capabilities that could expose sensitive data or access device functionality that they might not need.”

Free apps, in particular, Juniper said, “are 401 percent more likely to track location and 314 percent more likely to access user address books than their paid counterparts.”

Most smartphone owners download lots of applications, and the number of downloads is expected to reach upward of 45 billion in 2012 (21 billion going to Apple apps). apps-marquee

It’s widely believed that free apps take and collect more data – such as tracking user location – than users are comfortable with.

Many users aware of this may feel that boundary-pushing data collection is an acceptable trade-off for apps that, because free, must compensate their revenue through advertising (conventional wisdom is that free apps need detailed user information for targeted advertising partnerships).

It has been revealed that most apps tracking location and accessing private user permissions – upward of 90% of free apps – do not use the data for ad partnerships.

Upon examining the results of researching permissions use of 1.7 million mobile apps, Juniper Networks is now openly wondering just exactly what that user information is being collected for.”


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