North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers recently conducted a study on the privacy and security risks associated with mobile application advertisements. The researchers found that out of 100,000 apps in the Google Play market, more than 50 percent contained ad libraries. In addition, 297 of the apps included aggressive ad libraries that were enabled to download and run code from remote servers, which poses significant privacy and security risks. "Running code downloaded from the Internet is problematic because the code could be anything," says NCSU professor Xuxian Jiang.
The ad libraries pose a threat because they receive the same permissions that the user granted to the app itself when it was installed, regardless of whether the user was aware of granting permission to the ad library. The researchers found that one out of every 337 apps used ad libraries "that made use of an unsafe mechanism to fetch and run code from the Internet — a behavior that is not necessary for their mission, yet has troubling privacy and security implications," Jiang says.
Ad libraries offer a way for third parties, including hackers, to bypass existing Android security systems, Jiang says.
From North Carolina State University
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