Published in News
Unauthorised Apple apps are better than those with official blessing
by Nick Farrell on15 February 2012
They leak data less
Insecurity experts picking at Apple's “walled garden” of delights have found that the company's obsessive control does not mean that apps are more security.
In fact iPhone apps which could not make it into the Apple app store tend to respect privacy better than the approved ones inside. Recently an iPhone app Path was caught uploading users’ entire contact lists without permission and one study by a group of researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the International Security Systems Lab found that one in five of the free apps in Apple’s app store upload private data back to the apps’ creators that could potentially identify users and allow profiles to be built of their activities.
But they also discovered that programs in Cydia, the most popular platform for unauthorized apps that run only on “jailbroken” iPhones, tend to leak private data far less frequently than Apple’s approved apps. Forbes spoke to Manuel Egele, a post-doctoral researcher at UCSB, who said that all this confirmed a pattern he and his co-authors have long seen. Four of the Apple-approved apps he tested last year were found to similarly upload contacts, including one from the location-based social network Gowalla.
He said that unless Apple gives approval, you can’t put things in its store. But whatever job the company is doing isn’t good enough.