Tag Archives: app permissions

Do You Care If Someone Is Reading Your Email?

For some people, they don’t really care.  For other people, it is a complete invasion of privacy.

For both groups, it is happening every day.

Apps sometimes ask for permission to read your mail.  It could be to get rid of junk mail or clean your mailbox or many other reasons, but in all cases, you MUST give the app permission in order for it to read your mail.

What is sometimes not clear is that while YOU think that means that the app is reading your email, what the developer thinks is that HE/SHE can read your email.

When the app was installed eons ago, Google popped up a dialog box something like this:

You then clicked on the Allow box and the app started working its magic.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that, for example, employees of Edison Software read the mail of hundreds of users to build a new feature.   Return Path reportedly read the emails of thousands of users.

The developers say, its in the license agreement that I am sure that you read.  NOT!

Google says Not Our Fault!  You gave the app permission.

To see who you gave those permissions to and take them away, follow these steps from Motherboard:

To see which apps you’ve given email permissions to, you can use Google’s Security Checkup for Gmail. To remove these permissions, go to your Google account settings, select “sign-in and security,” navigate to “apps with account access,” click “manage apps,” and then click on your linked apps and hit “remove access.” (Go to the bottom of the post linked at the end of this blog for step-by-step screenshots illustrating how to do this.)

But this really begs a larger question.

Think about all the apps that you have installed on your iPhone or Android phone (or the two people on the planet that are still running Windows phones).

Did you even think about the permissions that the app asked for when you installed it.  Or if it asked for permissions when you ran it.

Absent doing that, there is no telling what your apps are doing.  Reading your texts, tracking your location or who knows what else.

Of course, if you don’t care, then its not a problem.  Otherwise, you should look at the permissions that you have given the various apps that are installed.  And when you install a new app, consider whether you REALLY want that app or its developers to be reading your mail or tracking your location.

 

Information for this post came from Motherboard.

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Your Flashlight May be Spying On You!

Do you think about the permissions that an app asks for?  A recent ITWorld article delves into the subject and while the article was testing Android apps, the issue is a concern, although a somewhat lesser concern, for Windows and iOS apps as well.

The issue at hand is that apps ask for certain permissions and you as the user have no idea what that app may or may not do with those permissions.  The developer may not have thought about the implications of asking for all those permissions.  OR the app may have designs that you are not aware of.

For example, the app might look at your wifi connections to figure out your location to present ads for stores that are nearby.  You might think this is ok – or you might not.

In the article, it gives a table of permissions that some flashlight apps ask for.  For example, some ask to be able to take pictures and videos.  Why would a flashlight app ask for that permission.  Could be benign.  Could be malicious.

Until users stop installing apps that ask for too many permissions (or the Android OS is modified to allow you to pick and choose which of the permissions an app asks for that you grant – which I hear is on the way), nothing will change.

In the iOS world you already have more flexibility in granting requested permissions or not.

BUT, you as a user have to consciously pay attention and either not grant permissions if you see something that concerns you or not install the app.  THAT TAKES A LITTLE BIT OF EFFORT.  AND, it might mean that you don’t use a particular app.

Remember, if an app asks for a permission – say access to your contacts – and you allow it, that app could send your entire contact list to a hacker in Eastern Europe and you would never know.  Think about that for a minute.

Or your pictures might show up on the internet.  Those private ones.

You are the only one that can lock things down.  Practice responsible apping. 🙂

Mitch Tanenbaum

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