Most Mobile Apps Unsafe, Risk ID Theft: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

One of the primary reasons people buy a smartphone is for the ability to download all kinds of different mobile applications, otherwise known as "apps."

However, a new study finds that many of these programs inevitably lead to the loss of personal data.

The study comes to us from ViaForensics, a digital forensics and security firm. It tested 100 different applications found on both the Google Android and Apple iOS platforms, and gave each app a rating of either a pass [safe], warn [not-so-safe], or fail [dangerous]. (Source:

Failed Apps Neglect to Protect User Information

A "pass" was awarded if ViaForensics was unable to access personal user data or found that information to be encrypted.

A "warn" was awarded where data was accessed, but was deemed not potentially damaging. It's unclear what kind of data ViaForensics felt did not pose an immediate threat.

Those apps receiving a "fail" grade were those where the personal user data could be easily accessed and obtained. This type of information could be used to propagate identity theft or to initiate a breach of financial information.

About 10 per cent of all the apps tested used no encryption method to store user data, including user passwords. (Source:

Less Than 1 in 5 Apps Pass Test

Here's the worrying part: only 17 of the 100 apps tested received a pass. A total of 44 received a "warn" rating, while 39 outright failed.

The kinds of apps tested varied in type -- from those involving financial institutions to social networking platforms and online retail outlets. Although it's uncertain if the social networking platforms tested included Facebook and Twitter, ViaForensics reported that these kinds of apps were the greatest offenders.

Not a single social networking app in the study (for a total of 19) received a passing grade.

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