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Analyzing Pre-Installed Software on Android Devices and Its Privacy Risks for ­sers


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The Android logomark.

Researchers studying pre-installed apps in Android devices found many facilitate access to privileged data and resources, without the average user being aware of their presence or being able to uninstall them.

Credit: Google

Researchers at Spain's Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and IMDEA Networks Institute, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley and Stony Brook University, have discovered a complex ecosystem of device manufacturers, mobile operators, app developers, and providers.

The researchers examined 82,000 pre-installed apps in more than 1,700 devices manufactured by 214 brands, and found that many of the pre-installed apps facilitate access to privileged data and resources, without the average user being aware of their presence or being able to uninstall them.

The study found that, while the permission model on the Android operating system and its apps allow a large number of entities to track and obtain personal user information, the end user is not aware of these actors in the Android terminals or of the implications that this practice could have on their privacy.

The researchers also identified more than 4,845 owner or personalized permissions by different actors in the manufacture and distribution of the terminals, allowing the apps advertised on Google Play to evade Android's permission model to access user data without requiring their consent upon installation of a new app.

From Universidad de Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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