iOS ‘Worse For Privacy Than Android’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Many more iOS apps track users and look through contacts, when compared to “intrusive” apps on Google’s OS, BitDefender says

There are more intrusive applications sitting on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system than on Google’s Android, a security company has claimed.

Whilst there are plenty of “invasive” apps running on both operating systems, BitDefender’s chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi told TechWeekEurope “it is worse on iOS”.

Apple-MoneyiOS privacy problem?

Research from the company found 45.41 percent of iOS apps have location tracking functionality, compared to 34.55 percent on Android. Whilst only 7.69 percent of Android apps can read a user’s contact list, 18.92 percent of iOS software can look through address books.

BitDefender’s analysis of applications was released after a year of collecting applications from the Play Store and iTunes, running them through its Clueful privacy rating app. Apple has not allowed that application to run on its app store, but apps can still be checked on the Clueful webpage.

Cosoi said the company has given up trying to get the application on the Apple App Store.

It may seem odd that Android has a much worse reputation than iOS when it comes to security threats and yet its apps have better privacy,, but it “kind of makes sense”, Cosoi added.

“iOS is pretty much closed. It takes several days to get an app approved and they are very thorough. So it’s hard to push malware here,” he added.

“But all the things that get leaked can make sense from a marketing perspective, so maybe that’s how some of the privacy issues get ignored.

“On Android, apps are easy to upload on the market, easy to disassemble, and also easy to install apps from third party markets, so easier to create malicious apps.”

Adware is a particularly nasty privacy problem affecting mobile apps, as the code often does more than users are aware of, such as siphoning off data.

Security firm Lookout said last month 6.5 percent of apps on Google Play app store contained adware, although it is facing a potential legal challenge from an ad network it named as bad adware pushers.

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