Thursday, 06 February 2014 15:41

Beware of snoopy Valentine apps

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A security vendor has warned that along with the usual seasonal scams, a number of Valentine's Day related apps are privacy invaders.

We're used to spammers and scammers using seasonal themes to get our attention, but security software developer Bitdefender has warned of Valentine apps that demand wider privileges than necessary for their overt functionality.

The concern is that such apps may be phoning home with information that most of us would consider confidential.

The company provided two specific examples, both of which are still available via Google Play (though we deliberately chose not to link to them):

Valentine's Day 2014 Wallpaper - requests access to location, phone calls, web bookmarks and history, and even contact lists. Bitdefender officials conceded "These permissions are most likely sought by the ad-placing network SDK" but it is hard to imagine how the developer or its advertising partner could justify that degree of intrusion.

Love Letters for Chat, Status - requests the ability to call phone numbers, add or modify calendar events, read calendar events plus confidential information, send email without the owner's knowledge, read and modify contacts, read and call log, read web bookmarks and history, and record audio. All this just to display "More than 1000 Arabic Love Quotes, Love Letters and Love Poems you can share with friends", according to the app's description.

"Some data should never be shared even with people you know, let alone with those you don't know. It's unlikely a stranger is working over the internet in your best interests," said Bitdefender spokesperson Loredana Botezatu.

She also noted a recent increase in Valentine's Day related scams directed at PC users.

"Fake diamond rings, flower arrangement deals, chocolate boxes and other online Valentine's Day specials just might grab your online identity instead of your heart this year, turning your PC into a zombie in a botnet or steal credit card details."

Image: Marc Tasman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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