There really is no such thing as a free lunch. It turns out many of those “free” apps you’re downloading from Google Play are connecting to a sprawled network of tracking sites.
Security researchers tested a group of 2,000 apps from the Play Store and found they connect to 250,000 different URLs from 2,000 different top-level domains.
The team from Eurecam France said they’re working on an app that you’ll be able to use on your own Android device for determining if any of your favorite apps are connecting to nefarious tracking sites.
About 10 percent of the sample group were rather aggressive about tracking, connecting to about 500 different URLs, some of them with questionable origins.
The research singled out Eurosport Player, which alone connects to 810 tracking sites. While the pervasiveness of the in-app connections aren’t necessarily dangerous on their own, it does highlight how much data exchange is going on behind the scenes when you use a mobile app.
A link to the full study was posted to the Cornell University Library site.
The impact on you: Android security is somewhat of a mixed bag. If you stick to the major apps from the Play Store you’re unlikely to encounter any malware. Google has even tightened its rules, now reviewing apps before they go live in the Play Store. However, this research indicates a bit more transparency may be warranted if it wants the Play Store to appear as consumer-friendly as Apple’s App Store.
This story, "Security research uncovers far flung reach of secret ad tracking sites in Android apps" was originally published by Greenbot.