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How Most Apps Collect Your Data More Than They Should

NordVPN’s cybersecurity and privacy experts delved into a global analysis of popular mobile apps across 18 categories. They found that as many as 14% of these apps gather more data than necessary for their functionality, with only 8% abstaining from collecting unnecessary data. On average, one in every five requested permissions wasn’t essential for the app’s core features.

According to Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN, many everyday mobile apps seek access to device functions unrelated to their primary purpose. Users often grant these permissions without reviewing terms and conditions, potentially compromising their privacy. Warmenhoven emphasizes the need for users to assess whether an app genuinely requires certain data before giving consent, particularly for intrusive categories like social media and messaging apps.

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The study uncovered that 42% of all apps request permissions linked to user activities beyond the app itself, indicating an intention to collect data across various applications and websites. Notably, social networking, messaging, navigation, and dating apps emerged as the most permission-heavy categories, with social networking apps, on average, requesting ten unnecessary permissions.

While gaming apps on Android and food and drink apps on iOS raised fewer concerns, the research revealed a geographical aspect. Apps originating from East Asia, particularly Hong Kong and Taiwan, exhibited a higher demand for permissions, likely influenced by regional regulatory environments and the popularity of specific app types.

To safeguard privacy, Warmenhoven recommends downloading apps only from official stores, reading privacy policies before installation, understanding and managing data permissions, limiting location access, refraining from automatic social media sign-ins, and regularly deleting unused apps to prevent ongoing data collection. These measures aim to empower users to make informed decisions and taking control of their digital privacy.

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