Knowledge Base

Android data leaks

Started by: robert_ian_hamilton
On: 13/11/2015 | 08:55
Replies: 11

by: robert_ian_hamilton
on: 13/11/2015 | 08:55

My first mobile was a brick. Literaly the size of a (small) brick. It could ring people and had 3 amazing ring tones! Then Nokia came along and I was in heaven. My first Nokia even had a game called snake in 19** something or other! Then came smart phones and I was in heaven again.

Next I learned how to root my phone and unroot it. Root, unroot, root, unroot and generaly fiddle with the inside gubbins! Then a guy called Snowden hit the news and I started investigating where my data was going. It never occurred to me to look closer to home and investigate my good old trusty mobile.


But when I did there was a shock in store.


I don't use social media. To be honest I have no time for people posting when they woke, what they had for breakfast and what colour their last poo was. I'm not a sewer inspector!


Imagine my surpise when I installed an android firewall and checked the log. After only a few minutes there were reams and reams of entries. Loads were directed to Google, loads to Amazon aws (Amazon cloud) and Facebook.


Hmmm. Did I mention that I don't use social media?


So I blocked the offending apps from accessing the internet. The apps went crazy.If my apps were 2 year old children (which at my age would be grand children!) they would be screaming at me! Constantly. All day long. I would probably be in prison for murder (not) but then these are just harmless little android applications. Aren't they?


So I started emailing the application developers asking the simple question: Why does your application make unauthorised communications with the internet?


Imagine my surprise when 95% of them didn't reply! One that did asked me to make purchases for various things. I emailed back and asked him to read the question again. He replied, said sorry for not understanding the question and said I should use PayPal to purchase app upgrades. I sent him a screen shot of the offending communication with Facebook. (Did I mention that I don't use social media?) A few days later he replied and said that the app contacts Facebook for advertising content to display when the app is used. Hmmmm, I use the paid version which according to the developer has no advertising. I emailed him this astonishing revelation. He never replied.


I deleted the app, a well known keyboard and installed one I had read about on xda developers forum. I now have a happy keyboard that doesn't want to talk to Facebook and tell the world what time I got up, what I had for breakfast or even, heaven forbid, what colour my last poo was. I'm still not a sewer inspector.


I hope you liked my little story and the screenshot attached. 


I am not Hans Christian Anderson. There is no ogre under the bed. However a good firewall may just save you some data and make your battery last longer. Mine does. About 25% longer.



P.s. I still don't use social media.

Message 1 of 12
by: cps15966
on: 13/11/2015 | 09:33

Lol @robert_ian_hamilton I found that a really good read.


I am like you, I don't use social media either, not only is it full or useless alerts, the majority of the time it caused break ups, arguments and **bleep**ing to name a few.


I use my data for emails really and the odd game like scrabble but what people don't realise too readily is that apps etc can access so much data and pass information on.


At the end of the day, if apps are free, do people not wonder why they are free?....

You get nothing in this world for free, there is always something that benefits the company offering the freebie.


I would advise anyone reading your post and mine that next time you go to google play to download a free app (even a live wallpaper), when you click 'install', just have a quick read of the permissions you are giving the app/company you are downloading it from and then think to yourself 'why would they want to have access or to know that'.


I was going to download a nice wallpaper off google play the other night, but because I read what access I am granting, I didn't in the end.  It wanted access to my phone book, my wifi connection and a list of what was connected to my wifi, also my phone details and number plus whether my phone was active on a call and what ther number was..... nah, stuff that lol


With facebook, it was preinstalled on the phone when I got it and as much as I would like to delete the app, there is no option to.... most annoying, I think they call it bloatware?? Anyway, like I say, a good read and some nice awareness things in your post

cps15966 - The creator of the idea for @ mentions you have all come to use and love Smiley Tongue
Message 2 of 12
by: jondy
on: 13/11/2015 | 09:40

Hi Robert.

 Suppose this is the same in all phone platforms. Data and details are a very precious commodity and can be sold on for mega bucks! You are correct in what you say, many including me would be totally unaware of what info is being leached out of my phone use?

if I knew I would only probably have a couple of apps at the most.

 Wonder what info the giffgaff app uses!?


If I've helped please press the kudos star buttonSmiley Happy
If I've answered your question please mark as best answer.
Message 3 of 12
by: robert_ian_hamilton
on: 13/11/2015 | 09:55

The GiffGaff app communicates with Google and GoDaddy!

Message 4 of 12
by: cass905
on: 13/11/2015 | 10:07
really good read I uninstalled Facebook straight away thanks for share
Message 5 of 12
by: cps15966
on: 13/11/2015 | 10:13



If you weren't already aware of it, you should keep tracks on the Creative Writing Competitions and submit an entry on the next one as you have a hidden talent there lol

cps15966 - The creator of the idea for @ mentions you have all come to use and love Smiley Tongue
Message 6 of 12
by: blackfive460
on: 13/11/2015 | 10:39


What a very useful post and a good read - well done!



Message 7 of 12
by: ncc74656
on: 13/11/2015 | 11:11

I'm thinking of getting an Android phone, or I was...


apart from checking preinstall what apps do what (i'm an oldie with no techie skills) is there anyway to stop apps from contacting the net @robert_ian_hamilton

Free the giffgaff one!
Message 8 of 12
by: robert_ian_hamilton
on: 13/11/2015 | 11:21

@ncc74656 I'm an "oldie" too. My first computer was at school in the 70's. It was a Pegasus Autocode that filled a whole Victorian classroom! 

You could root your phone and it is quite a simple thing to do but that would invalidate any warranty you may have on your phone. A simpler way is to instal a non root android firewall. You can see the name of the one I use on the screen shot but I must add that I am in no way connected with the creater of it. It is free and simple to use. You can then control which apps communicate with the internet. 

Some android antivirus applications also come with a firewall but you generally need to be rooted to use their firewall.


Message 9 of 12
by: cim
on: 13/11/2015 | 11:44

@robert_ian_hamilton "I still don't use social media."


Isn't gg's community social media?

Get a free Giffgaff SIM posted to you pronto
Message 10 of 12