More than 40pc of iPhone apps don’t encrypt the location data they retrieve – study

20 Jul 2012

A study of more than 65,000 iPhone apps by Bitdefender has revealed privacy and security concerns over what users might pick up in the App Store.

“We see a worrying landscape of poor user-data encryption, prevalent location tracking and silent, unjustified, address book access,” said Bitdefender’s chief security researcher Catalin Cosoi.

The report from the antivirus software provider found that 41pc of the apps studied can track a user’s location without permission, and just 57.5pc of these encrypt the data they retrieve.

A further 18.6pc can access user’s contacts, an issue that was recently highlighted with the App Store’s first malware breach this month. Find and Call, a Russian language app, was found to be stealing this data and spamming users’ contacts.

“It is worrying (that) stored data encryption on iOS apps is low and location tracking is so prevalent,” said Cosoi. “Without notification of what an app accesses, it is difficult to control what information users give up.”

With the launch of iOS 6, apps will no longer be able to access user’s information without permission. However, this does not solve the problem of encryption, which is the responsibility of the developers.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic