Android Apps Can Secretly Track Your Location, Traffic Patterns Without Your Consent: Study

Do you believe that every app installed on your Android Mobile Phone needs your permission to find information about you? Think again. A new research from Northeastern University have revealed that Android apps can secretly track user’s location and traffic patterns even without using device’s GPS or Wi-Fi.

Mr. Guevara Noubir, who is a professor at College of Computer and Information Science in Northeastern University, teamed with their students (Sashank Narain, Kenneth Block and Triet Vo-Huu) and developed its own app which could access the sensors of Android device such Accelerometer, compass and gyroscope without establishing any special permission from user. Mr. Noubir stated that, it is easy for an app to gain access to phone’s data just by building their own app data. And just like this app, any other app available on Android app store, Google Play can access your data and track your location and others.

Android apps can be influenced so that it get access to the built-in sensors of a smartphone device and then track your whereabouts and traffic patterns even without your consent.

The research team has developed an algorithm which receives data uploaded from user’s built-in sensors to a server which graphs the location of user on a public database of road map.

Anyone can put their apps on Google Play for a cost $25. And the most shocking fact about Google Play store is that there is a high possibility of having malicious apps on store, as no one is screening the apps. If an app requires sensitive information of user such as location, it should follow a typical permission process. However user skip to understand the terms-of-use agreement while downloading apps and click on accept without even knowing what the actual terms are. And that’s how sensitive information of user gets accessible to such apps.

So what if an app is tracking your location?

Gathering a driving pattern of user with an Android app can attack on an individual’s privacy like where the user live, works and hang out throughout the day. Hence users should avoid installing apps which are non-familiar and not from trusted developers. And if you are not sure about a particular app, just investigate it over internet. Also make sure that whether you are using the apps running in background or not.


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