Location trackers found in the code of 450 very popular apps








The appetite of apps for our personal data seems limitless. ExpressVPN conducted a survey of 450 of today's most popular apps, and found a tracker to permanently locate the user in each one.

A list of 450 applications, all downloaded at least 1.7 billion times, is available on GitHub.




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Data potentially shared with the military

The case is more serious than it appears. Because while no one doubts for a moment that their smartphone is constantly tracking them, not everyone may be aware that their location data is arriving on US military servers.

X-Mode is one of the largest data brokers across the Atlantic. Following an investigation published by Motherboard last year, revealing that the company had close ties to the US military, Apple and Google decided to ban applications containing the SDK signed by X-Mode.

However, the conclusions of the ExpressVPN investigation contradict this directive. According to Sean O’Brien, Research Director of ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab, X-Mode code was present in 44% (or 199) applications analyzed. 'Despite the ban, only 10% of applications have been deleted from Google Play,' reports the researcher.

According to ExpressVPN's observations, applications intended for Muslims (Muslim Pro, Muslim Mingle, etc.) seem to particularly attract the attention of X-Mode, whose SDK is said to be present in 10 religious or cultural applications exceeding 67 million downloads.




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Nightmarish fake apps for personal data

Not surprisingly, dating apps are at the top of the app categories requiring constant access to the user's location. But more worrying for the less informed mobile users: some counterfeit applications are also very greedy in terms of personal data.

Application counterfeits are understood to mean apps that seek to reproduce the aesthetic codes and functionality of a real application in order to deceive the user. These are for example Telegramy or Messenger App, which seeks to ape Telegram, or We Chat, which seeks to entice users looking for WeChat (without space) into its nets.

As the ExpressVPN survey reveals, these 'bogus' apps are particularly loaded with trackers. On these last examples alone, there are 20, 24 and 19 respectively. In the list, Google and Facebook trackers, as everywhere else on the Web, but also sometimes signed by Quadrant - a data broker 'which has been central in recent privacy scandals, ”ExpressVPN - or OneAudience tells us. Yet another broker who - that is to say - has been sued by Facebook for violating the personal data of its users. Its code was found in 167 apps on the list, or 37%.


Source : ExpressVPN


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