Researchers from a London-based charity called Privacy International studied 34 popular Android apps, each of which has 10 to 500 million downloads, between August and December 2018.
The organization found that 61 percent of the apps studied, including those maintained by TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Calorie Counter, automatically sent user data to Facebook via its software development kit.
Because of the platform’s ubiquity, Privacy International has reported that almost half of the apps on the Google Play Store could have secretly been sharing data with Facebook.
And because so many Android apps are involved, the charity noted that robust profiles of individual users’ personal lives could be created. According to Privacy International, the sensitive data shared without authorization could include health information, travel details, and even religious affiliations.
And because the data transfer is facilitated by the SDK, users who don’t have the Facebook app on their phones or Facebook accounts are exposed.
Facebook Just Loves to Share
The news breaking that Facebook has been collecting data on the public without their knowledge probably is not how the tech giant wanted to start the year.
In 2018, the social media company was engulfed in a scandal concerning its relationship with Cambridge Analytica. As a result of Cambridge’s misuse use of user data in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has come under scrutiny from the government, the media and, its own users.
Last month, the company’s situation grew worse after it was revealed that it had been giving companies, such as Spotify and Netflix, access to users’ private messages. As a consequence of the relentless bad press the company has attracted, it’s stock dropped by 25 percent last year.
Cybersecurity Concerns outside Social Media
Even as Facebook’s non-stop slew of public relations disasters keeps pushing it ever closer to irrelevance, other cybersecurity concerns will not be going away any time soon. Even when setting aside social media, it’s become clear that the digitization of society has made securing private information a precarious proposition.
In late November, hotelier Marriott was hit with a pair of class-action suits seeking $12.5 billion in damages. Why? A data breach led to 500 million of its guests having their personal information exposed (including passport numbers). And in December, Caribou Coffee admitted that customers from half of its U.S. shops may have had their data stolen by hackers.
Due to the increased need by governments, corporations, and individuals to protect sensitive information, Acer Cyber Security expects its sector will experience double-digit growth in the next few years. As such, it’s reassuring to know that major companies are actively seeking solutions to the global data security problem.