Background refresh is risky: Most iOS apps are stealing user data

ByDaniel Camilo 2019-05-30 169

According to the Washington Post, the reporter found from a ongoing privacy experiment that some iOS apps use this feature to periodically send data to tracking companies when background apps are allowed to refresh.

While it's no surprise that apps use trackers and share user data, the frequency with which background refreshes are used to send data is surprising.

These apps send information such as phone numbers, emails, geolocation, IP addresses, including Microsoft OneDrive, Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Weather Channel, DoorDash, Yelp, Citizen, and even the Washington Post's own iOS app. Among them, Citizen shared personally identifiable information in violation of its privacy policy, and Yelp sent information every 5 minutes, but the company subsequently said it was a bug.

In a week-long test, a total of 5,400 trackers were found, most of which were in the application. Disconnect revealed that these trackers could send 1.5GB of data in a total of one month.

But not all data collection is malicious, some will be anonymous and deleted after a certain time, but some trackers will collect specific user data, but do not provide clear retention time and sharing objects.

Users who do not want to be collected can turn off the automatic refresh function of the background application, or use some VPN software to limit the automatic refresh behavior of the APP in the background.

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