Sci-tech

A bunch of popular iPhone apps silently record your screen, report claims

A bunch of popular iPhone apps silently record your screen, report claims

This allows developers to record your screen to see how you interact with the app - mainly used to detect errors and to enhance user experience.

Several popular iPhone apps have been caught recording users' screens despite never asking for permission, TechCrunch reports. In a recent analysis by TheAppAnalyst, a mobile expert has found that some popular iOS apps are recording your screen. So, if you're using Expedia, the app can record everything you swipe, tap, and type into the Expedia app. For the most part, not withstanding bugs like the FaceTime one exposed by a teenager, Apple does a good job of telling you when an app is accessing personal data such as location services or contact information.

A company called Glassbox is one of a few companies that offer app and website developers technology that allows them to record the screen and watch how users navigated their app.

"Since this data is often sent back to Glassbox servers I wouldn't be shocked if they have already had instances of them capturing sensitive banking information and passwords", he told TechCrunch. And, these were recorded as sessions without users even being unaware and without their permission, and further wasn't mentioned in the apps' descriptions or policies for that matter.

As TechCrunch notes, The App Analyst recently demonstrates that Air Canada wasn't properly "masking" session replays, exposing credit card details and passport numbers to people who replayed the session. This means anyone with access to these replays can access sensitive information. But if the implementation is poor, these apps can leak customer data.

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According to Tech Crunch, apps from carriers, airlines, travel sites, banks and others don't tell you that they are doing this. TechCrunch says none of these apps ever warned the user it's even recording their actions in the first place, nor do they mention it in their privacy policies. Now, they have moved a step ahead and started to record the whole screen without knowing the users.

Air Canada and Glassbox announced a partnership back in the fall of 2017, to use the latter's analytics platform within the airline's mobile app. While collecting user data purely for creating better apps makes sense, it's also important that users are aware how much of their sensitive data could be escaping their device. Is there a difference between gathering data from users if this data is used to improve apps versus collecting information about users?

To be clear, session replays and other similar technologies, which are available from a host of companies in addition to Glassbox, are not illegal or necessarily a bad thing.

Glassbox also explained that the data it collects from consumers isn't shared with third parties and is 'highly secured and encrypted'.


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