Friday, 22 February, 2019

Apple forces iPhone app developers to remove screen recording code

Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays
Troy Mann | 10 February, 2019, 21:56

The apps and online services you use sometimes gather your data and use it for analytics or advertising purposes. It allows companies to integrate their screen recording technology in their apps to reproduce how the user interacts with the apps. The problem? Every tap and keyboard button press is recorded, sending sensitive information unencrypted to developers.

A mobile device expert known as the App Analyst explained how data captured by the apps often failed to hide private information. But you should be aware that, even if a company says it isn't doing this in its app, any app can monitor anything that happens inside itself and you have no way of knowing.

But some companies do not effectively mask the session replays when they send them which means that their payment information or passport, visa details can be clearly seen. Air Canada said that its app experienced a data breach which exposed over 20,000 profiles.

The process in question usually involves a third-party analytics gathering company that embeds its technology in the app's code.

It's unclear, however, if Google will follow in the footsteps of Apple and ban any apps that use it.

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The Cupertino company requires apps recording a user's screen to have a red icon in the top left corner to let users know that their screen is being recorded. The company pointed out that "no data collected by Glassbox customers is shared with third parties, nor enriched through other external sources" and that it "meets the highest security and data privacy standards and regulations". So, not too bad. The apps can track user activity within their apps by using a software called Glassbox.

'Since this data is often sent back to Glassbox servers I wouldn't be shocked if they have already had instances of them capturing sensitive banking information and passwords'.

The analyst said that the data was 'mostly obfuscated, 'meaning masked, but did see in some email addresses and postal codes. In the end, he said that it is impossible to know if an app is recording the screen or not. In fact, they didn't find any mention of that in fine print of their privacy policies.

Neither Apple, Air Canada, Expedia, Hotels.com, Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister immediately responded to requests for comment. Neither did Singapore Airlines. But, after you leave the app, it can't see anything you do on your home screen or anything you type into another app. Apple's iOS operating system would prevent apps from recording your screen all the time, even if they wanted to.

However, it's less about using Glassbox's technology, which seems to be the situation for most organizations aside from Air Canada, and more about the proper disclosure of screen recoding software.

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