Dutch university students create programme to increase Android security

Students at the University of Groningen have designed a piece of software called Anaconda, which lets users check the privacy of their apps.

What is private?

Most Android apps require a certain amount of information in order to operate. This can include access to users' memory card, call lists or social media accounts.

Users are typically informed of this when they go to download an app, courtesy of a pop-up message. But they are rarely told what the app will do with this information.

This is where science students at Groningen stepped in. Anaconda essentially assesses which Android apps "leak" private user information to third parties.

Worrying results

After developing the software, the students immediately put Anaconda to use by testing 14 popular Android apps.

They found that 572 requests were made by apps for private information. Worryingly, a massive 243 of these were followed by a distribution of this information to third parties.

If these results are extrapolated to the larger population of apps and app-users, it could signify a breach of privacy.

Countless app users could be having their information sold on - probably without their knowledge or consent.

If Anaconda becomes widely available, it could allow users to more effectively veto which apps make it onto their phones.

Elzi Lewis


Elzi Lewis

Elzi swapped rainy Manchester for (rainier) Amsterdam a year ago, and has never looked back. Having just finished an MA at the University of Amsterdam, she is both excited and...

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