Surprise! Flashlight apps might be spying on you

Mobile apps have too much access to our data

Flashlight apps might seem like the most innocuous type of smartphone apps, but many of them have (perhaps surprising) spying capabilities.

SnoopWall tested ten of the top Android flashlight apps and found their permissions settings allow them to do things like take pictures and videos, modify system settings, track your location, and modify or delete the contents of your USB storage. SnoopWall says Windows and iOS flashlight apps have similar permissions but are more restricted. 

flashlight apps SnoopWall

To be fair, just because an app has these far-reaching permissions, that doesn't mean the apps' developers are actually collecting or sharing our information. However, why on earth would flashlight apps, of all things, need to read your calendar or access your storage? 

The sad truth is it isn't just flashlight apps but many other types of free and popular apps that have the ability to record our information (and may actually be doing so). Angry Birds collects your location and your contacts list. ShopKick can turn on audio recording and listen through your phone's microphone.

Despite the possible security and privacy implications, though, you probably don't have to panic about the security risk of flashlight apps in particular, Snopes says. On the other hand, this is a good reminder to look at the permissions requested for any app you download. If the risk doesn't seem worth it, look for more privacy-sensitive alternatives.

This story, "Surprise! Flashlight apps might be spying on you" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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