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Facebook, Twitter Reveal That Android Apps Accessed Users Data

Twitter and Facebook said they will notify those whose information was likely shared through apps

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Android Smartphone phone
Smartphones have become the most important gadget to own these days & Android is a mobile operating system. Pixabay

In yet another data breach, Facebook and Twitter have admitted that data of hundreds of users was improperly accessed by some third-party apps on Android Google Play Store as they logged into those apps.

Security researchers discovered that the One Audience and Mobiburn software development kits (SDK) provided access to users’ data, including email addresses, usernames, and recent tweets, on both the platforms.

Twitter and Facebook said they will notify those whose information was likely shared through apps.

“We recently received a report about a malicious mobile software development kit (SDK) maintained by One Audience. We are informing you about this today because we believe we have a responsibility to inform you of incidents that may impact the safety of your personal data or Twitter account,” the micro-blogging platform said in a statement late Monday.

The companies were notified of the vulnerability by third-party security researchers.

Android is a mobile operating system
Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software. Pixabay

A Facebook spokesperson told The Verge: “After investigating, we removed the apps from our platform for violating our platform policies and issued cease and desist letters against One Audience and Mobiburn”.

We plan to notify people whose information we believe was likely shared after they had granted these apps permission to access their profile information like name, email and gender”.

At the moment, it looks iOS users were not impacted.

According to Twitter, this issue is not due to a vulnerability in Twitter’s software, but rather the lack of isolation between SDKs within an application.

“We have evidence that this SDK was used to access people’s personal data for at least some Twitter account holders using Android, however, we have no evidence that the iOS version of this malicious SDK targeted people who use Twitter for iOS,” said Twitter.

Twitter has informed Google and Apple about the malicious SDK so they can take further action if needed.

Android apps in a tablet
Some of the best apps available for Android smartphones. Pixabay

“We will be directly notifying people who use Twitter for Android who may have been impacted by this issue,” it added.

Earlier this month, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members” information in the last 60 days”.

ALSO READ: Facebook Turned To Privacy Champion By Embracing Encrypted Messaging

The social networking giant found that the apps – primarily social media management and video streaming apps – retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface).

According to the company, the apps designed to make it easier for group admins to manage their groups more effectively and help members share videos to their groups. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Prefers DuckDuckGo over Google

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Protection aims at blocking all the hidden trackers they can find, exposing the major advertising networks tracking its users over time

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U.S. Senate, Twitter
Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City. VOA

BY MD WAQUAR HAIDER 

Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey last week revealed that he has been using DuckDuckGo as his default search engine for quite some time now, apparently due to its stronger privacy features compared to other popular alternatives such as Google Chrome, among others.

DuckDuckGo claims that it is different from tech giants like Google and Facebook, which track user activities to provide targeted ads and services.

Experts feel that DuckDuckGo is still quite a small player compared to Google Chrome which is used by over 2 billion people globally for Internet browsing, but it can indeed be seen as an alternative for those who care for their privacy.

“One thing that makes DuckDuckGo different from other search engines is that it does not profile its users and show all users the same search results for a given search term which helps in giving out the best searches, cancelling all fake websites and click baits that can easily download themselves into our system,” John Dong, Director, Tenda, a leading provider of networking devices, told IANS.

Launched in 2008, DuckDuckGo’s search engine is far behind Google, with its average number of searches per day reaching close to 50 million, while Google processes more than 3.5 billion search queries a day.

But just because the browser does not profile its users, it does not mean ads are not served on the platform.

“It is a myth that search engines need to track you to make money on Web search. When you type in a search, we can show an ad just based on that search term. For example, if you type in ‘car’, we show a car ad. That doesn’t involve tracking because it is based on the keyword and not the person,” explains the DuckDuckGo website.

The DuckDuckGo browser features smarter encryption and private search — all designed to operate seamlessly together while a user searches and browses the web.

“We are proud to say that at the end of 2016, we surpassed a cumulative count of 10 billion anonymous searches served, with over 4 billion in 2016 alone! We are growing faster than ever with our first 14M day on Jan 10, 2017,” Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder, DuckDuckGo, recently wrote in a blog post.

“In terms of growth, 2018 saw our average daily private searches leap 63 per cent, from 19 million to 31 million. To put things into perspective, that is 723 per cent growth in average daily searches since the privacy zeitgeist of 2013,” Weinberg said.

google, online tracking
A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

According to him, people are actively seeking out ways to reduce their digital footprint online. For example, a Pew Research study reported 40 per cent think that their search engine provider should not retain information about their activities.

“DuckDuckGo has a point to prove. However, it is very difficult to get into a territory dominated by godfather of Internet, Google. DuckDuckGo has to do something really great to be seen by potential users,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at market research firm techARC.

DuckDuckGo also introduced a fully revamped version of its browser extension and mobile app.

The updated app and extension are now available across all major platforms — Firefox, Safari, Chrome, iOS and Android — so that a user can easily get all the privacy essentials you need on any device with just one download.

The DuckDuckGo browser extension and mobile app comes with a Privacy Grade rating (A-F) when a user visits a website.

This rating lets the users see at a glance how protected they are, dig into the details to see who the company caught trying to track the user and learn how they have enhanced the underlying website’s privacy measures.

The Privacy Grade is scored automatically, based on the prevalence of hidden tracker networks, encryption availability and website privacy practices.

Also Read: Users to be Able to Order Apple’s New Mac Pro Soon

This alternative to the US-based search engine giant aims to expose and block tracker networks watching its users.

The vast majority of websites across the Internet contain hidden tracker networks, with Google trackers now lurking behind 76 per cent of pages, Facebook’s trackers on 24 per cent of pages, and countless others soaking up users personal information to follow you with ads around the Web, or worse, claims DuckDuckGo.

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Protection aims at blocking all the hidden trackers they can find, exposing the major advertising networks tracking its users over time. (IANS)