Security & Privacy + Security News + Software & Apps

The Summer of Sketchy Apps

Posted on by

Last month, an app was found and later removed from Apple’s app store that blurred the lines between deceptive advertising and outright malice. The app described itself as a user guide for Microsoft Word, and was attributed to the developer “Super Racing Real Games” rather than Microsoft. But plenty of people were fooled into thinking that this was in fact an iOS version of the popular word processing software.

Since the app sold for $9.99, people could be excused for thinking this might be something more substantial than a how-to video. This was not a cheap mistake for those people who were duped.

Today, another app was found and removed from Apple’s app store for having deceptive practices. This one, named “Find and Call” was leaking people’s contacts, and sending SMS messages advertising the product to those contacts.

These are not the first apps to engage in less-than-transparent behavior that many people found objectionable, and undoubtedly these will not be the last. Mobile apps are still fairly new territory, and the rules of ethical behavior have not been as thoroughly laid out as they have been on the desktop. Developers are clearly pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Sometimes this bad behavior is in the name of marketing, like these two apps. And sometimes it’s just because of poor security practices like LinkedIn’s iOS app leaking potentially confidential information. Either way, hopefully users will have a better view into this sort of behavior with the next version of iOS, which is due to be released this fall. This next version, iOS 6, is currently in beta testing and it includes notifications when apps ask to access data from your contacts, calendars, reminders and photos.

Until then, it’s up to the buyer to beware. Be sure to thoroughly read descriptions and reviews of products before you install them.

How can I learn more?

Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep an eye here on The Mac Security Blog for the latest Apple security and privacy news. And don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels: Follow Intego on Twitter Follow Intego on Facebook Follow Intego on YouTube Follow Intego on Pinterest Follow Intego on LinkedIn Follow Intego on Instagram Follow the Intego Mac Podcast on Apple Podcasts