We store a lot of personal and private information on our mobile phones, but is it secure? Can other people access it? Does information leak out? Are your private details being passed on? Clueful Privacy Advisor will tell you.
Just think of all the information that is stored on your phone, such as your contacts, phone numbers, email addresses, text messages, emails, web browsing history, photos, calendar appointments, notes and much more. Is all of this being kept secret on your Android phone or is some of it leaking out? Are personal details being passed to third parties?
If you want to know the answer to this, download Clueful Privacy Advisor from the Google Play Store. It is a free app from security experts Bitdefender, so if anyone knows what is going on, they should.
The app is ultra-simple and there is very little to it. Open the app and it displays your privacy score in a large and colourful disc in the top half of the screen. At the bottom it tells you the number of high risk apps, moderate risk apps and low risk apps, colour coded red, orange and green like traffic lights.
Tap a category, such as high risk apps, and all the apps are listed. Tap an app and the privacy problems with it are displayed. For example, an app might read your contacts, track your location, leak your email address and so on. Tap each of these and the item expands to show an explanation of what is going on.
My immediate thought was that the app was pointless. The problem is that the horse has bolted so there is no point in closing the barn door, as the old saying goes. The apps that are listed as leaking personal information have been on my phone for months and it is too late to do anything now because they have already leaked all my private information. There would not be any point in deleting them because they have already done the deed.
An app that only tells you afterwards that an app leaks personal details is useless, but Clueful Privacy Advisor isn’t quite as pointless as I first thought. It monitors the apps that you download and as soon as one is installed, a notification appears telling you whether the app is safe or has a privacy problem. You could then delete it without running it and this would prevent it from leaking anything.
Clueful does a bit more than highlight the information that is shown to you by the Google Play Store, and to which you agreed. Here is a popular app in the store, Freeletics, and when the Install button is tapped this screen appears:
You are told that it accesses your identity, contacts, location, photos and Wi-Fi. Interestingly, Clueful only rated it as a moderate risk and not a high risk. Perhaps the app only accesses the information and it does not actually leak it to third parties.
There are some things you just have no control over. You might protect your privacy by deleting apps that leak information on your own mobile phone, but what about your friends? You are in the contacts app of many friends. They will have your email address, home phone number, possibly a work phone number too, and maybe even your address. They might have emails and text messages from you.
If a friend has an app on their phone that leaks contact information, then your information is sent to whoever created the app. It is therefore a waste of time trying to clean your own phone of apps that leak information if all your friends are leaking information about you. How do you stop that?
I don’t know what the answer is, apart from getting all your friends to abandon leaky apps, and you will never persuade them all. Some won’t bother. I guess there are some things that you just can’t keep secret.
Title: Clueful Privacy Advisor
Size: 1.8 MB
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 26 April 2015