Android developers whilst making an app can almost do what ever they want. If they want to, they can code their app to get at a huge variety of personal information stored on your phone. In the news recently there has been a lot of fuss/propaganda saying how bad Android is in this respect. Such as this ill informed piece from channel 4 here.
What most of these reports fail to point out is that when you install an app you are shown what permissions the app needs. So if it says it will steal all of your contact details you had best not install it.
The Android Market does little to stop this. In general people are a little lazy and I would guess only a small percentage of people actually check the permissions of an app before installing it.
Take some of the “Strange Android stuff” type apps we have looked at over the last few weeks. “Whack Your Boyfriend” had an absurd amount of permissions required for a basic game. Reader “Bradavon” pointed out quite how bad it was.
Take a look below at what it requires
THIS APPLICATION HAS ACCESS TO THE FOLLOWING:
SERVICES THAT COST YOU MONEY
DIRECTLY CALL PHONE NUMBERS
Allows the application to call phone numbers without your intervention. Malicious applications may cause unexpected calls on your phone bill. Note that this does not allow the application to call emergency numbers.
COARSE (NETWORK-BASED) LOCATION
Access coarse location sources such as the cellular network database to determine an approximate device location, where available. Malicious applications can use this to determine approximately where you are.
FINE (GPS) LOCATION
Access fine location sources such as the Global Positioning System on the device, where available. Malicious applications can use this to determine where you are, and may consume additional battery power.
FULL INTERNET ACCESS
Allows an application to create network sockets.
YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
READ BROWSER’S HISTORY AND BOOKMARKS
Allows the application to read all the URLs that the Browser has visited, and all of the Browser’s bookmarks.
WRITE BROWSER’S HISTORY AND BOOKMARKS
Allows an application to modify the Browser’s history or bookmarks stored on your device. Malicious applications can use this to erase or modify your Browser’s data.
READ PHONE STATE AND IDENTITY
Allows the application to access the phone features of the device. An application with this permission can determine the phone number and serial number of this phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like.
MODIFY/DELETE USB STORAGE CONTENTS MODIFY/DELETE SD CARD CONTENTS
Allows an application to write to the USB storage. Allows an application to write to the SD card.
DISCOVER KNOWN ACCOUNTS
Allows an application to get the list of accounts known by the device.
Allows the application to control the vibrator.
VIEW NETWORK STATE
Allows an application to view the state of all networks.
VIEW WI-FI STATE
Allows an application to view the information about the state of Wi-Fi.
Allows an application to have itself started as soon as the system has finished booting. This can make it take longer to start the device and allow the application to slow down the overall device by always running.”
All of that is a little worrying. Ask yourself what on earth are Google playing at to let this sort of app through into the public domain. There are thousands of apps like this and still we wonder why we get spam emails and text messages.
Well anyway rant over today we have an app for you that lets you look at your already installed apps and it rates them on how dodgy they are. It will then let you get rid of them as well.
The first time you run this app you will get a long list of good, bad, mediocre and incorrect apps. You will need to go through the list selecting and ticking the apps you 100% trust. They then will not appear on your list again.
The higher the score the worse the app. At first Google Maps seemed to be my my worst app, mainly because it needs access to everything. But it’s a Google app so I ticked it. I did find a few games that had rather a few too many permissions. The app lets you uninstall them straight from there.
Here is the market info for the app.
“FREE and NO ADS
What are the applications you have installed that you have given the most permissions?
What are the applications that are most respectful of your personal data and less potentially dangerous?
This must-have application will give you a very simple answer to these questions.
Itself does not require any permission and contains no advertising.
It is optimized for mobile and tablet (Xoom, Iconia, Galaxy Tab, Optimus Pad …)”
This app will be something that I check on a few times a week now. I do install a lot of games and apps to test them out, review them and generally just have a play. This app will be a great tool in the battle against dodgy apps. Hopefully one day Google will implement some sort of screening similar to Microsoft and Apple. Especially as the Bouncer thing they were flaunting earlier on in the year seems to have come to nothing.
It’s free so give it a whirl today. You never now what you may find.
Market Link – Permission Friendly Apps