Some Android games monitor your location

The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online service is advising that some Android games can reveal your location without the user being aware:

Many mobile educational and game applications (apps), despite being designed for young children, have been identified monitoring children’s geographical locations and selling the information to advertisers.

Apps on your phone may request permission to access location, address book, email, SMS and other information as part of their normal functions, but for some apps, access to this information may not be necessary. If you are concerned about the privacy of your family, read the permission information carefully and be selective about granting the app access to information on your phone.

Managing an app’s access to information requires careful attention to the permissions you give the apps when you load it on your smartphone or tablet.

Security firm Bitdefender recently warned about the practice after noticing that some Android games such as Kids Educational Puzzles were requesting permission to track their users’ locations. This information is often sold to advertisers, who use it to target advertisements to specific types of users in particular parts of the world.

Android devices will show a warning screen when an app is installed and run, outlining exactly what type of information it wants to access. The latest version of Android (4.3), installed on new Android devices, includes an App Ops feature that lets you allow or block specific activities for each installed app.

iPhones and iPads do not explicitly highlight the types of data they collect, but you can control apps’ access to location information by looking in Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Read the whole article here.

Malware found in Android apps

The Australian government’s Deaprtment of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy‘s Stay Smart Online site has published a concerning post regarding the possibility of apps in the Google Play store containing malware.

The post explains:

Google has removed 32 apps from Google Play after the apps were discovered carrying a new form of malware (BadNews).

Globally, the apps have been downloaded millions of times.

Although the apps are no longer available from Google Play, if you have already downloaded any of these apps on your device you will need to uninstall them, they contain malware which may access your personal information or introduce further costly malware.

Read more here. It’s worth considering subscribing to the Stay Smart Online alerts service, where items of concern are emailed to all subscribers.