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Data Leakage Issues in Smartphones

Written by DFM Team

Data Leakage Issues in Smartphones

The ever-increasing number of Smartphones and applications being utilized for processing all manner of information raises issues of information ownership. The mobile user utilizes many applications to create and use information, including the cloud. However, the potential for misuse, disclosure, re-use, and many other unplanned uses of the information is high. There are software and hardware backdoors in most of these mobile systems that make vulnerable any information. This includes the release of sensitive information, behavioural patterns, locations, identity information and general communications. Our research deconstructed the information system of a Smartphone to identify the multiple layers of services, the communications, and their security provisions. It uncovered the sources for data leakage, the ambiguity of ownership issues around the data processed and generated, and general misunderstandings regarding the ownership of information created by user permissions. The research principally examined the android application file system to determine the presence of vulnerabilities for sensitive information. Devices were tested to validate data leakage through various software backdoors and insecure ports utilized by the application for communication. Recipients of the harvested information were also identified and their business motives analysed. It was found most of the leaked information was going to marketing companies and their resellers. Our purpose was to raise awareness of the issues related to the ownership of data and alert users to potential unintended reuse of their information. Finally, countermeasures are suggested for Smartphone user protection.

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