Your flashlight app might be asking for too many permissions and there’s no easy fix
- Avast has found that simple flashlight apps in the Google Play Store ask of 25 permissions, on average.
- Of the 937 apps analysed by Avast, 77 were asking for the right to record audio with others asking for permission to edit contact lists.
- But since flashlight apps are so common and users are normally giving these permissions anyway, it is difficult to tag them are malicious.
Avast analysed 937 flashlight apps in the Play Store and found that 77 were asking for the right to record audio. While 180 apps wanted permission to read contact lists and 21 apps even wanted to be able to edit your contact list.
"The flashlight apps we looked into are just an example of how even the simplest apps can access personal data, and it’s often not just the app developers that gain access to data when users download an app, but the ad partners they work with, to monetize," said Luis Corrons, Security Evangelist at Avast, in a statement.
So why are these still on the Play Store?
When it comes to flagging apps in the Google Play Store, requesting too many permissions is a a gray area. It’s difficult to tag these apps as malicious or potentially unwanted since it’s the users give permission to access to their smartphones.
When users give these permissions to an app, they’re also giving them away to any third parties that are associated. This also gives them permission to carry out changes in the phone’s app list’s permission section.
So app developers can essentially integrate ad software into the original app’s code in order to earn extra money. But in order for the integrated software development kits (SDKs) to work, the app needs all those extra permissions in the first place.
"Developer privacy policies are unfortunately not inclusive, as in many cases, further privacy policies from third-parties are linked within them," said Corrons.
Top 10 of apps active on Google Play requesting most permissions
|No.||App Name||Permissions count||Number of downloads|
|1||Ultra Color Flashlight||77||100,000|
|2||Super Bright Flashlight||77||100,000|
|4||Brightest LED Flashlight -- Multi LED & SOS Mode||76||100,000|
|5||Fun Flashlight SOS mode & Multi LED||76||100,000|
|6||Super Flashlight LED & Morse code||74||1,000,000|
|7||FlashLight – Brightest Flash Light||71||1,000,000|
|8||Flashlight for Samsung||70||500,000|
|9||Flashlight - Brightest LED Light &Call Flash||68||1,000,000|
|10||Free Flashlight – Brightest LED, Call Screen||68||500,000|