Flashlight Apps do more than shine light

In our society today, many people have a great desire for instant gratification. With  technology expanding at alarming rates, consumers have grown accustomed to having the world at their finger tips at the push of a button. Cell phones are used for far more than making a quick phone call  or sending a text message. Many people in our society now use cell phones for mobile banking, GPS services and mini computers among a plethora of other utilities, including flashlights.

A group of researchers at Snoopwall—a technology solution that detects and blocks spyware and malware has found that some of  the most widely used flashlight apps are preforming tasks that far exceed the requirements of a flashlight. Many of the top flashlight apps request permission to use GPS location,modify storage, change display settings and view network connections  among other permissions that are not at all necessary for a flashlight. The Snoopwall study showed that it did not seem to be any more safe to download from google play than it was to get them from 3rd party websites as Google Play does not closely analyze the apps it puts in the market place. All of the top 10 google play flashlights executed unnecessary functions to various degrees. Apple devices were found to be at a slightly smaller risk due to the hardened operating systems of iOS 7 and 8.

Snoopwall recommends that users who have downloaded one of the potentially malicious apps delete them and depending on the permissions the app was given, reset the phone. The company also recommends that consumers  slow down and pay closer attention to the permissions that they give apps, disable GPS  and bluetooth services when not in use.

The full article can be found at: http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-awareness/spying-flashlight-apps-reveal-user-inattentiveness-to-cyber-security/

the list of permissions that some of the top apps that were tested can be found here: http://www.snoopwall.com/threat-reports-10-01-2014/

Ryan Stadtlander

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