Are Pre-Downloaded Apps a Security Risk?
We’ve all gone through this process. We buy a new phone, power it on, and then boom, we are hit with a bunch of unnecessary apps that have already been pre-downloaded onto our new phones. Many of us will put those “useless” apps in a folder and forget that they are even on our phone. It turns out that you might be putting your privacy at risk when you do that.
A tool that was built by security firm Kyrptowire was used in a study funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on 29 different phone vendors to determine any security shortcomings. Many of the vendors that were tested you probably have not heard of, but a few of the major companies including Sony, Asus, and Samsung were a part of this.
Many of the vulnerabilities that were found through this test were based on the apps that were pre-downloaded on the phone. Some of the capabilities of these apps include installing other apps, changing the system settings, to even forcing apps to record audio. 146 vulnerabilities in total were found and can be found on Kryptowire’s website.
Google is aware of the problem and has even built a program called Build Test Suite that all OEMs must pass. Built Test Suite can scan these apps for any security issues and flags them as Harmful Applications to be able to better protect their customers.
Google is working on fixing these issues but it does not mean that every app that is pre-downloaded will be safe to use. Be sure to check out the list of vulnerabilities that you are putting your privacy at by having these apps downloaded.
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