After the news that US and UK spies harvest data from popular app Angry Birds, a number of security experts have said they’re ‘not surprised’.
According to leaked documents by Edward Snowden, the British surveillance agency and America’s National Security Agency (NSA) are collecting data on age, sex, location, political views and sexual orientation through Angry Birds and a number of other applications.
“It is not a surprise to hear that the NSA gathers information from Angry Birds,” said Vicente Diaz, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
“The information provided by these apps has already proven lucrative to both advertisers and developers so it stands to reason that it is also valuable to intelligence agencies. Many games allow users to play with contacts and friends and therefore bind those individuals to a network of people, just like social networks.”
“The latest version of Angry Birds asks the user for information on their location, mobile number and various other personal details – all this apparently for advertisement purposes. However, this can provide third parties with more information that you want to share, such as exactly where you are at any particular moment.”
Michael Sutton, VP of security research as Zscaler added: "While app store gatekeepers such as Apple, Google and Amazon focus on ensuring that malicious apps aren’t included in their app stores, they tend to do a very poor job at filtering out those apps that expose users to privacy risks.”
Bitdefender’s chief security strategist, Alexandru Catalin, commented: “Smartphone users need to realise that their mobile phone is less of a phone and more of a mobile computer, in which applications can collect data from other applications installed on the same device.”