A few weeks ago, Path app for iPhone was found uploading phone contacts from users without their permission. It was later discovered that a lot of other apps available on the App Store do it as well. Path CEO apologized to all of its users and released an update to the app that fixed these privacy issues. Many apps available on the App Store still continue to collect private data and don’t inform the users.
In a study performed by the University of California at Santa Barbara and International Security Systems Lab, researchers state that App Store apps tend to leak more private data than the apps available in Cydia. This study was performed last year, which not everyone knew about it. The researchers built a software called PiOS that would test how secure the App Store apps are vs. the so called illegal Cydia apps. They performed the test using 1407 free apps from the App Store and 526 Cydia apps from BigBoss repo.
The results were astonishing and showed that about 21 percent of App Store apps leaked data device UDID information, 4 percent shared and tracked device location and about 0.5 percent uploaded contact lists. The Cydia apps, on the other hand, did less damage. Only 4 percent of all the Cydia apps shared the UDID information and one single app from all the 526 apps leaked location and contact details.
In the above image, it is shown that App Store apps are doing more damage and have privacy issues compared to the Cydia apps. Apple is clearly overlooking this and has to do something about it, because this isn’t a good thing at all.
Clearly this behavior hasn’t changed over the last year. I’m not sure whether there’s been any improvement from Apple’s side. For easily accessible data, app store apps are much more frequently accessing and leaking that data. The app store is supposed to be a walled garden. Unless Apple gives approval, you can’t put things there. But whatever job the company is doing isn’t good enough.
We’ve already discussed about the Cydia tweak that can help you in protecting your privacy. Cydia tweaks like ContactPrivacy and others actually help users to keep their data secure. Don’t you think Apple should start caring about user privacy and isn’t this a good enough reason for people to jailbreak their iDevice?