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The rules of ”basic hygiene”

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We use our programs, but they have their rights

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The scandal over the Burger King iOS app, which seemingly captured the contents of device screens, highlights the problem of applications requesting excessive permissions during installation. More often than not, they don't need the functionality they claim they need access to.

Security researchers examined 15,627 applications from Google Play, 510 applications from AppChina, 528 apps from and 285 applications distributed over Anzhi.

Their research was primarily focused on the following points:

  • Which applications require permission to access the device microphone and camera;
  • Which applications incorporate code that makes use of multimedia API (Audio API, Camera API or Screen Capture API);
  • Whether the API requests are contained in the application’s code or incorporated in third-party libraries shipped with the program.

The researchers discovered that many of the applications studied required access permissions related to multimedia features, but only a fraction of them actually utilised the functionality.


That means that few applications actually use all the features they've been granted access to: the experts determined that out of 17,260 applications, only 21 captured multimedia data and used network connectivity to send it to a remote server. Now here is the question: why did they ask for permission in the first place?

Unfortunately, normally applications can’t be installed unless the requested privileges are granted. But we can check what access permissions an application has, right?

Because many Android versions exist, there is no way to give instructions that will apply to all devices.

For Google Pixel. Open Settings → Apps & notifications. Then tap on the application whose settings you want to view (if you can't find it on the list, tap See all apps). Tap Permissions to see what features the application can access: for example, a messenger may have access to SMS. To revoke a permission, tap on it. If a certain feature is particularly important for the application's operation, you may need to confirm your choice.

To see a complete permission list, in the Apps & notifications window, tap App permissions. Here you can view applications according to what permissions they have—from using the microphone to accessing the call history—and deny their access to specific features.

If you use Windows 10, the procedure is different.

Open the Settings section.


…and scroll down to the Privacy section.


In the newly appeared window, select Application Permissions:


Select a feature on the permissions list. For example, you can select Camera and see which applications can access it.


However, these instructions mostly apply to applications that have been acquired from the Windows Store or are included in Windows by default (such as Mail and Cortana).

#Аndroid #Windows #security

The Anti-virus Times recommends

Unfortunately, restricting permissions for important applications is not always possible. So if you want to keep your data safe, use a different device for banking and important communications (a device that remains unexposed to threats on the Internet and doesn't have a lot of applications installed on it). And you can probably guess what application must be installed and remain operational at all times on this device.


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