Politically-Inclined Mobile Users Warned to Guard Privacy

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In order to use the Romney campaign’s app, users had to sign in through their Facebook® account or to provide personally identifiable information such as their name, email and home address. Users who opted to sign in through Facebook gave the app permission to post on their profile page on their behalf and to collect even more data from their Facebook friends. The application was also found to collect other information such as the device ID, carrier and phone number as well as GPS and cell locations.

There were two other permissions this app seeks that caught GFI’s attention, including access to the audio recording features of a mobile phone and its camera. The app doesn’t appear to take advantage of those features now, so why does it need those permissions?

GFI Software™ recently released its VIPRE® Report for August 2012, a collection of the 10 most prevalent threat detections encountered last month. In August, GFI threat researchers also examined the privacy of users downloading mobile apps released by both the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney U.S. presidential campaigns. Researchers also uncovered a variety of new attacks targeted at Android™ device owners including phony antivirus programs and a fake Adobe® Flash® Player application.

“While issues with mobile security are a relatively new phenomenon, it does not mean that there are not already a large number of security pitfalls that users should avoid,” said Christopher Boyd, senior threat researcher at GFI Software. “Avoiding mobile malware often requires the same preventative tactics associated with traditional malware such as verifying the legitimacy of any unsolicited emails or hyperlinks before installing an unknown application or submitting personal information. However, as we saw this month, even legitimate mobile applications can pose a threat to privacy if users do not investigate before granting permissions to gather data.”


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