A different app store…one without hidden trackers

Discussion in 'Android OS' started by RickAgresta, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    ANDROID USERS: TO AVOID MALWARE, TRY THE F-DROID APP STORE

    The scourge of hidden trackers in Android apps means users should stop using the Google Play store, researchers argue.

    IN THE EARLY days of Android, co-founder Andy Rubin set the stage for the fledgling mobile operating system. Android’s mission was to create smarter mobile devices, ones that were more aware of their owner’s behavior and location.“If people are smart,” Rubin told Business Week in 2003, “that information starts getting aggregated into consumer products.” A decade and a half later, that goal has become a reality: Android-powered gadgets are in the hands of billions and are loaded with software shipped by Google, the world’s largest ad broker.

    WIRED OPINION--ABOUT
    Sean O’Brien and Michael Kwet are visiting fellows at Privacy Lab (@YalePrivacyLab), an initiative of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Contact them securely.
    Our work at Yale Privacy Lab, made possible by Exodus Privacy’s app scanning software, revealed a huge problem with the Android app ecosystem. Google Play is filled with hidden trackers that siphon a smörgåsbord of data from all sensors, in all directions, unknown to the Android user.

    As the profiles we've published about trackers reveal, apps in the Google Play store share a wide variety of data with advertisers, in creative and nuanced ways. These methods can be as invasive as ultrasonic tracking via TV speakers and microphones. Piles of information are being harvested via labyrinthine channels, with a heavy focus on retail marketing. This was the plan all along, wasn’t it? The smart mobile devices that comprise the Android ecosystem are designed to spy on users.

    One week after our work was published and the Exodus scanner was announced, Google said it would expand its Unwanted Software Policy and implement click-through warnings in Android.

    Link:
    https://www.wired.com/story/android-users-to-avoid-malware-ditch-googles-app-store/
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
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  2. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    I've had F-droid on my phone from time to time (I have it there now, the latest cycle of checking it out). I brought it up briefly in a security discussion we had back in 2015. Unfortunately, it reminds me of Linux when I first started using it at the end of the 1990s. Sure, it has secure apps for basic things, but they are just too basic. I didn't switch from Windows to Linux back then as I have now because the tradeoff between security and functionality wasn't worth it back then. And to really be safe, you'd really need to install just Android without the Google Apps, i.e. without the Play UI. Basically, leaving you with a Linux variant, not really Android.

    Admittedly, I now use more and more apps that can be sideloaded-- Pimlical, Softmaker Office, NoteCase Pro, VLC, DroidTV. Maybe someday I'll give the experiment of going all out F-droid a try. :vbwink: Nah, probably not. :vbrolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  3. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    If the advertising overlords can't track me, how will I know what to waste my time and money on?

    Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
     
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  4. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    Well, you hang out here, so clearly you know how to waste time. And we'll be happy to tell you what to waste your money on. :newpalm:
     
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  5. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    I've used several app stores besides Google's. A few years ago I used Androidpit, because geographical restrictions prevented me from installing many apps from Google (Tapatalk was one of them). Androidpit's store went offline some time ago, and even before then it didn't update apps so often as Google's. Same with Amazon. Apps on Amazon would be two or more versions behind Google, and on a few occasions I missed key features or bug fixes because of this. It seemed Amazon didn't encourage developers to update apps published in its store. Even the fine print used to say "apps will be occasionally updated" or words to that effect. Little by little I ended up re-purchasing apps on Google and deleted the apps and agents from Amazon and Androidpit. I'd rather take care when installing apps and trust AdGuard (supposedly it blocks malware and trackers), than juggle two or three app stores again looking for the latest app version. I do sideload one or two apps, such as AdGuard (banned from Play Store) but the rest of the apps in my household devices will keep coming from Google for the foreseeable future.

    Ah yes, that's a well-earned reputation <lovingly looking at Apple BT keyboard, purchased after Hook's recommendation. Actually, it's the second Apple BT keyboard purchased by raspy, since he gave the first one to his daughter a year ago>. I have quite a wishlist and no idea where to start. Hint 1: Got a NAS a few months ago, need new Gigabit router and switch. Hint 2: Got an Xbox for the kids, need new TV, more controllers, and games. Hint 3: Kids' PC seems to be dying (I believe it's jealous of the Xbox), need new PC, laptop, or convertible. Hint 4: There doesn't seem to be enough money even for half of all that stuff :D :D :D
     
  6. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    <rick wonders if the Birthday Fairy will smile on raspy…>
     
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  7. RossTeagan

    RossTeagan Newbie

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    Any idea of the Aptoide app store?

    Did you guys use it and do you find is safe?
     
  8. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    I don't know why the briefly released Android control panel that allowed you to turn on/off access for individual apps to your data. As I recall, it briefly appeared in one iteration of Android and then Google killed it, saying they would release it when 'ready'. Much like Facebook promised to centralize the control panel for your data after each breach and 'accidental' release of your data.
     
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  9. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    Isn't this the same as checking which apps are conected to one's Google account (under Settings -> Google Services -> Connected Apps) ? I thought only these connected apps had access to the account's data. Or can non-connected apps access that data?
     
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  10. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    I don't know what the difference between connected and unconnected apps are. This was a control panel that allowed you to granularly control the permissions for each app. For example, for App X you can turn on/off permission for location data, access to contacts, access to your texts, calls, data use, etc.
     

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