App Stores Can’t Protect Users From Apps Abusing Data

Downloading apps from an App Store aren’t trustworthy. A top app that hovers up browsing data is only the last example. Sometimes, an app that you get from an app store can do bad actions with your data.

Mac App Store Certainly Isn’t Safe

Apple has a strict policy to its app stores when requiring manual human reviews and denying apps for several reasons. Apple is also famous for taking care of user privacy. You can expect a number of protections for your data in Apple’s app stores. However, if you do that, you might be disappointed.

A top seller on Mac App Store, named Adware Doctor was stealing users’ s web history and then transferring it to a server placed in China. Apple had known that for nearly two months month, but the company only removed the app when the issue was reported publicly.

But it wasn’t a one-off problem. Shortly just after this public was against Apple, Reed Thomas exposed a number of Mac App Store apps that act in the same way. According to him, Malwarebytes have been reporting software to Apple for many years, but Apple did not often take a look at the action. The time for Apple to uninstall a bad app is around 6 months. Apple just removed those apps after they were exposed to the public.

If you don’t know, a few years ago, the Apple Mac App Store was full of scams. That’s why Mac users are always recommended to treat the App Store like you do other download sources: as dangerous.

Each App is now required to have a Privacy Policy but You Won’t Read

Apple has been doing some actions g related to the problem. From October 3, 2018, all new apps uploaded to the Mac App store must have a visible privacy policy. Updated apps currently on the store, not every app will need a link on its page so that users can view a privacy policy when tapping on it.

According to guidelines on Apple App Store, the privacy policy has to identify what data the apps are collecting, explain what the data is being used for, and then outline how users can require the data to be deleted.

It’s your protection as Apple requires the app to tell you what it’s doing in fine print, but, of course, most users won’t ever read.

You Agreed To Data Sharing Already

Much of this data capturing and sharing is shown out in the several terms and conditions, privacy policies. You will need to tap on your way through while installing an app or creating a new account.

No one reads these things since it pretty wastes time and we can do better things rather than scrolling through a contract about terms and condition every time installing an app or creating a new account. While everyone knows so, that doesn’t matter. It’s about legal ass-covering. You simply agreed to all this data when installing the app, using it, or creating an account.

How to know what the App is doing actions with your data?

It’s difficult to know exactly what actions an app is doing with your data. An app on your device such as iPhone, Mac, Android, or whatever else, will be possible to collect any data to which it gets access. App often communicates through encrypted connections and it can whatever it wants over an encrypted connection without anyone peeking inside.

Even when you trust the company, after all your private data is saved on that app’s servers, your data can be done as whatever it wants. Although the privacy policy could say it’s not sold, it can be shared with partners or something like that, which usually amounts to the same thing. In the feature, the app will need to update its privacy policy to allow sharing of collected data. But no one can ensure your data will not be stolen even when the app has its privacy policy.

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Even when you carefully consider when giving an access to your contacts, photos, or other private data to the app. You can also deny the permission request if you feel the app is not trustworthy. If you intend to install an old Android app, you should not install if it requires permissions that you are not comfortable.

You should also stay away from browser extensions, which want to access your browsing history if you don’t trust the company. Chrome extensions frequently turn evil, as well as abuse permissions to snoop on you. The Web Store on Chrome usually struggles to keep this problem on top. The problem not only happens with Chrome as Mozilla’s add-on also faces the same problem.

Also see: Steps to cancel app downloads from Mac App Store

Don’t Completely Trust the App Store

Apple, Google, and other big corporations with their app stores don’t have your back when coming to your data. When the store’s policies are even clear, they aren’t enforced. It takes six months so that Apple can pull down a misbehaving app, and that’s only for the app that has already been explored to the public. Google has been continually deleting bad apps from Google Play, as well. Chrome and Firefox extensions/add-ons usually abuse the trust users.

Although you download an app from an app store, it doesn’t mean the app store can protect your private data. You should only download apps that you trust and are always careful about the data shared with those apps. If you feel that company is not enough trustworthy, you should not give its app access to your contacts or other your private data like photos, back info, etc.

It would be great if app stores are trustworthy to enforce more protections with our private data. However, for now, we just get mandated fine print. While you are not paranoid, be warned: You should not rely on Apple, Google to get these apps to behave nicely. But it doesn’t mean the app stores are not good. They’re still safer than downloading apps from unknown sources. But they cannot protect users as much as we expect.

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