Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Android Privacy Communications Handhelds Security

The App That Tracks Who's Tracking You 52

Daniel_Stuckey writes "It's no secret that apps like maps or local weather know your current location, and you're probably cool with that because you want to use the handy services they provide in exchange. But chances are there are many other apps on your phone, anything from dictionaries to games, that are also geolocating your every move without your knowledge or permission. Now researchers are developing a new app to police these smartphone spies, by tracking which apps are secretly tracking you, and warning you about it. Before your eyes glaze over at the mention of yet another privacy tool, it's worth noting that this new app is the first to be able to provide this line of defense between snooping apps and smartphone users for Android phones. Android's operating system is engineered not to allow apps to access information about other apps. But a team at Rutgers University found a way around that, by leveraging a function of Android's API to send a signal whenever an app requests location information from the operating system. MIT Technology Review reported on the research today."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The App That Tracks Who's Tracking You

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Allow blocking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:38PM (#46113061)

    Google removed the api, but not because it was something they wanted to prevent.
    The API was done in a hackish way that could cause more security issues than it solved.

    I expect Google will install an after-the-fact fined grained permissions control in a future Android versions, that will allow you to turn off access for apps that are permission greedy. If you prevent access to some information, an installed app may fail, but that is preferable to the blanket installation time approval system we have today.

  • Re:Allow blocking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:57PM (#46113301) Journal

    The app should allow blocking of certain apps access to gps or whatever system they are trying to access. If my dictionary app is accessing my gps then allow me to block that app from using it.

    You probably want lying rather than blocking... The arms race between you and the hostile dev is over pretty quickly if you block (plus, naive applications that just assume they have the permissions they requested on install will probably crash right, left, and center, which is their fault; but your problem). Lying, by contrast, is unlikely to be 100% bulletproof against a good data-miner; but 'well-formed and plausible' is certainly much, much, harder to notice and respond to with certainty than being blocked is.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.