Are Your IPhone Apps Tracking You?

A new study conducted by Manuel Egele, of the Technical University of Vienna, and three other researchers revealed that about half of all iPhone apps are sharing your sensitive information without your knowledge.

Technology Review reports that out of the 1,400 iPhone apps studied, Egele found that over half of them used a tracking technology and collected the 40-digit number unique to each phone. In a small minority of cases, apps “blatantly compromised privacy.” Thirty-six accessed the iPhone’s location without permission, and five accessed the user’s address book without asking.

The four researchers analyzed 825 apps available for free on Apple’s App Store and another 582 apps on the Cydia repository. Cydia is a service that makes software available to users who have “jailbroke” their phones. Interestingly, the study found that apps from the app store were more likely to covertly access user data than apps from the unregulated Cydia repository. Charlie Miller, an iPhone security expert and principal analyst with Independent Security Evaluators, stated “There is not an easy solution to the problem, but having a central clearinghouse (like Apple) is the best way to do it,” he said. “But right now, Apple’s probably not doing it right.”