Path tightens mobile app security
Two months after a report that it secretly collected user data, Path says all user data will now be hashed to preserve anonymity
Computerworld - Social networking service Path has upgraded the security of its mobile application in apparent response to a recent outcry over its data gathering practices.
In a brief blog post, Path said that a newly released 2.1.1 version of its software automatically hashes all user contact information in order to protect the privacy of the data.
All phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter handles and Facebook IDs that Path collects in order to connect users with their contacts, will in future be hashed the statement said.
"We hope our actions set a new standard in this field as we strive to serve you, our users, first," the note added.
Path's move comes a few weeks after the company found itself in the middle of a major privacy row after a Singapore-based programmer published a blog post describing how Path's journaling application for iOS and Android-powered phones, used by over 2 million users, was secretly collecting user address book data.
The Feb. 8 disclosure drew widespread attention to the data collection practices of mobile application vendors in general, and the processes that platform vendors such as Apple and Google use for vetting those vendors.
Two lawmakers-- Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield -- have asked that Apple respond to a series of questions about the company's polices for verifying the privacy practices of mobile application developers such as Path.
U.S Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), meanwhile, has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google for similar reasons
The outcry stemming from the programmer's disclosure pushed Path CEO and co-founder Dave Morin to quickly issue a public apology.
In his blog post, Morin acknowledged that the company had made a mistake in gathering the data but noted that the information was collected purely to improve the quality of friend suggestions made by the application.
Last month, Path was one of 18 companies hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly distributing privacy invading mobile applications.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- Top Tips for Securing Big Data Environments: Why Big Data Doesn't Have to Mean Big Security Challenges Organizations must come to terms with the security challenges they introduce. As big data environments ingest more data, organizations will face significant risks...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!