We live in a world full of smart devices, which we assume that can be fully under our control. However, a groundbreaking new study suggests that apps on smartphones and other smart devices might be taking screenshots of users’ activities and sending them to third parties.
More Insights into the Smartphone Spying Research
The study conducted by the Northeastern University warns of a disturbing scenario wherein screenshots, videos of activity on a smartphone screen, and other details such as credit card numbers, passwords, bank account numbers, and other highly sensitive personal information could be transferred unknowingly by thousands of popular apps. According to David Choffnes, a computer science professor who supervises the study, the apps have an ability to record the entire activity occurring on smartphone’s screen, along with everything a user types.
The study inherently was carried out by two students – undergraduate Elleen Pan and doctoral candidate Jinging Ren. The students were originally investigating an urban myth about phones that are secretly recording users’ conversations, followed by the information being sold to third party companies, so that they can flash their advertisements rampantly. The researchers found no activity of recorded conversations; however, they discovered activity that could be more dangerous. Choffnes further stated that they were looking for a needle in haystack, and were surprised to find several needles.
The researchers found out that some companies were actually sending screenshots and smartphone spying videos of user phone activities to third parties. The privacy breaches appeared not to be so serious, but they emphasized how easily a phone’s privacy settings could be exploited and made into a profit. As per Christo Wilson, who also is a computer science professor, this privacy opening can certainly be used from the perspective of malicious intent. More research is being done on this study that was conducted on more than 17000 most popular apps on Android systems.