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Flashlights apps stealing your data

Flashlight appA few weeks back, someone on Facebook alerted me to the raft of permissions I, and every other app user, blindly says "Yes" to when installling them. We give them permission to take photos and videos, send and receive messages, snoop round in our data. The list of permissions is truly staggering.

But this last week, I read that one of the worst culprits is the humble flashlight app - or more correctly, some of them. It seems that some of them have taken noseyness to a whole new level sending all types of info back to their authors. Take the "Super bright LED Flashlight" app. This is what it can do (YOU gave it permission to when you installed it!):

  • control flashlight - well that's what you'd expect, but...
  • retrieve running apps
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • test access to protected storage
  • take pictures and videos
  • view Wi-Fi connections
  • read phone status and identity
  • receive data from Internet
  • change system display settings
  • modify system settings
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • view network connections
  • full network access

While I'm very happy having a flashlight in my pocket, I don't really think it has any business taking photos and videos, testing network access, looking at my WiFi connections, or any of the rest. I want it to light someplace, not snoop in my life!

The FTC have sued the Flashlight Free app (a competitor), but in a typically lim wristed Government way. All they made them do is make a list of permissions WE'RE granting them on installation (formerly they didn't say). Well hurrah for amazing justice.... not! What about telling them that's illegal spying? Surely the Government doesn't want competition!! :-) But, of course, it's not illegal because we, the installers, gave them permission to.

So, before you install a flashlight app, look first at the size. They only need be a few kb, not Mbs like some of the worst ones. Then read the permissions before hitting agree.

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