Risk

4/5/2011
02:41 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Feds Probe Mobile App Privacy

Pandora, an online music service, got hit with a subpoena that appears to be part of an investigation into the information sharing processes of apps that run on Apple and Android mobile platforms.

Best Mobile Apps For Busy Professionals
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Best Mobile Apps For Busy Professionals
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating how mobile apps use personal data, according to an unnamed source cited in a story by the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing any ongoing investigation.

But on Monday, Pandora, an online music service that distributes mobile music apps, confirmed that earlier this year it had been "served with a subpoena to produce documents in connection with a federal grand jury, which we believe was convened to investigate the information sharing processes of certain popular applications that run on the Apple and Android mobile platforms."

Pandora revealed that it had received the subpoena in a financial filing with the SEC. The company noted that while it was not a specific target in the investigation, it could nonetheless incur costs to comply with the subpoena and might be dragged into litigation.

The revelation follows a series of reports by the Wall Street Journal about online privacy. In October, the paper found that the 10 most popular Facebook apps were sending Facebook UIDs (user IDs) to at least 25 data collection and advertising firms. In December, it found that 56 out of 101 popular smartphone apps transmitted the phone's unique device ID number without consent and that almost as many transmitted location data.

These findings have piqued the interested of regulators at the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice and have prompted at least one lawsuit already.

The Federal Trade Commission has been backing a do-not-track proposal and legislators like Senator Jay Rockefeller say that basic privacy rules are necessary. In all likelihood, the era of self-regulation for mobile and online apps will soon end.

While privacy rules may provide a framework to punish those acting in bad faith, they're not likely to ensure individual privacy. Without a complete source code review by a third-party -- something that's not likely to happen -- it's relatively easy for an ill-intentioned developer to spirit information out of a user's phone. A simple method would be to cache sensitive data and transmit it, perhaps in encrypted or obfuscated form, a month or two after installation.

Even with a mobile operating system like Android, which requires users to authorize network access in apps, the fundamental problem is that personal and financial data be used both legitimately and illegitimately and it's not always possible to divine intent from raw data.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
New Mexico Man Sentenced on DDoS, Gun Charges
Dark Reading Staff 5/18/2018
Cracking 2FA: How It's Done and How to Stay Safe
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  5/17/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] Navigating the Threat Intelligence Maze
[Strategic Security Report] Navigating the Threat Intelligence Maze
Most enterprises are using threat intel services, but many are still figuring out how to use the data they're collecting. In this Dark Reading survey we give you a look at what they're doing today - and where they hope to go.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-10428
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-23
ILIAS before 5.1.26, 5.2.x before 5.2.15, and 5.3.x before 5.3.4, due to inconsistencies in parameter handling, is vulnerable to various instances of reflected cross-site-scripting.
CVE-2018-6495
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-23
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) in Micro Focus Universal CMDB, version 10.20, 10.21, 10.22, 10.30, 10.31, 10.32, 10.33, 11.0, CMS, version 4.10, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13, 4.14, 4.15.1 and Micro Focus UCMDB Browser, version 4.10, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13, 4.14, 4.15.1. This vulnerability could be remotely exploited to al...
CVE-2018-10653
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-23
There is an XML External Entity (XXE) Processing Vulnerability in Citrix XenMobile Server 10.8 before RP2 and 10.7 before RP3.
CVE-2018-10654
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-23
There is a Hazelcast Library Java Deserialization Vulnerability in Citrix XenMobile Server 10.8 before RP2 and 10.7 before RP3.
CVE-2018-10648
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-23
There are Unauthenticated File Upload Vulnerabilities in Citrix XenMobile Server 10.8 before RP2 and 10.7 before RP3.