The leader in the number of data transmission channels was the “Read for free” application from Litres – 31 channels.
Using the AppCensus service and Exodus application privacy audit platform, the Internet edition of The Bell analyzed what data the popular Android applications in the Russian Google Play Store process and transmit, as well as what permissions they request from users.
According to the results, 89 of the top 100 free applications send user data to third-party platforms. Almost all applications transmit information both through encrypted and unencrypted Android Ad ID channels. Thus, this not only allows the Google advertising system to easily associate the device with a specific user, but also provides third parties with access to personal information of users, including geolocation. The leader in the number of data transmission channels was the “Read for free” application from Litres – 31 channels. The “first channel”, in turn, ranks first in the number of unencrypted streams. It also turned out that the applications of Channel One, the Rossiya TV channel and NTV use HTTP protocol instead of more secure HTTPS when transmitting data to the Mediascope media meter.
Almost all analyzed applications (97 out of 100) use advertising trackers that help search engines and social networks recognize a specific account and display targeted ads. Exodus specialists found the largest number of trackers in the popular Coub loop video service – 30 trackers.
As for permissions, most of the most popular Google Play Store applications are requested by VK from Mail.ru Group. Applications request 60 different permissions, including access to geolocation, camera, microphone, call and message history, and user device data.
According to Symantec, 46% of all Android applications request access to the smartphone’s camera, and 25% request audio recording without notifying the user.