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Thread: Are Apps really safe??

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    scottzilla's Avatar
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    #1

    Are Apps really safe??

    I find Droids app market to be a little low class compared to Apple. Apple Apps are more polished, and you aren't forced to comply to a variety of demands just to download an app (I'm sure Apple uses a more sweeping legal statement in it's 58 page license agreement) and Dorid Apps are clearly not even developed in the USA. You can tell by the broken english text used in their simple messages that appear on your device.

    Up until now, I was at least operating under the assumption that Apps taken from the market are at least safe, but Tubemate has me wondering.
    First, I was using Tubemate for a few days until a popup (In good broken English of course) advised there is an improved version available. OK, why didn't this show up as an update?? Hmmmm.
    So you can't update tubemate in the market, you have to go to tubemate.net's website. Hmmmmm, odd.
    So I think i'm smart and uninstall tubemate thinking I can just reinstall the updated version. OK, uninstall goes just fine but why can't I find tubemate in the market? Hmmmmmm.
    Today, I search tubemate and find it in the market but the comments indicate this is not the original tubemate. Seems a competitor took the name because tubemate was deleted from the market! Seriously, go to tubemate.net and see for yourself.

    So I have a few thoughts/questions about this.
    First, this is sleazy. Tubemate, a legit app from the market place attempted to convince me to download their app as a 3rd party install after being thrown out of the market by google. That's not right.

    Furthermore, another company decided to steal the name and decieve customers by touting their knock off product as Tubemate when it is not. The negative comments clearly indicate this is a sub par app.

    What gives?? These 3rd world app developers have access to all of my info just to downlaod their app, I would expect better security than this. Or is this somehow the consumers fault for not knowing better?

    Mark my words...when the viruses make their way to hand held devices it's gonna get very ugly.
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  3. Master Droid
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    No, not all apps are safe. For example if you download an app for wallpapers, and it asks for permission to your call log, incoming outgoing calls and ID, your user account info, or anything that is obviously not needed for the app then steer clear of it. The reason the app store doesnt ask for all this is because they screen everything that goes in. This doesnt mean that they dont miss stuff. And when they do, you wont get a warning like on android telling you what permissions the app has.

    Apple and Android are two different paths. If you dont want to scan over the permissions yourself, or dont understand them, and don't mind the fact that some really cool apps might get the axe, then apple is for you. If you can check permissions yourself and take the inherent risk involved, then you will end up with more options for apps for example wifi tether.

    I agree that Apple has some more refined apps, hopefully some day we will be on par. Either way, i wouldnt trade refinement for lack of user control. .02
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  4. Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by hemorrdroid View Post
    No, not all apps are safe. For example if you download an app for wallpapers, and it asks for permission to your call log, incoming outgoing calls and ID, your user account info, or anything that is obviously not needed for the app then steer clear of it. The reason the app store doesnt ask for all this is because they screen everything that goes in. This doesnt mean that they dont miss stuff. And when they do, you wont get a warning like on android telling you what permissions the app has.

    Apple and Android are two different paths. If you dont want to scan over the permissions yourself, or dont understand them, and don't mind the fact that some really cool apps might get the axe, then apple is for you. If you can check permissions yourself and take the inherent risk involved, then you will end up with more options for apps for example wifi tether.

    I agree that Apple has some more refined apps, hopefully some day we will be on par. Either way, i wouldnt trade refinement for lack of user control. .02
    OK, so as a consumer how am I supposed to know what an app NEEDS access to to function? I'm not a computer whiz; like many people I just own a droid and assume apps in the app store are safe to use.

    In my example with tubemate, this company obvioulsy has access to it's customers information, then gets kicked out of the app store by google. That certainly sounds like a breach of security to me.
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hemorrdroid View Post
    No, not all apps are safe. For example if you download an app for wallpapers, and it asks for permission to your call log, incoming outgoing calls and ID, your user account info, or anything that is obviously not needed for the app then steer clear of it. The reason the app store doesnt ask for all this is because they screen everything that goes in. This doesnt mean that they dont miss stuff. And when they do, you wont get a warning like on android telling you what permissions the app has.

    Apple and Android are two different paths. If you dont want to scan over the permissions yourself, or dont understand them, and don't mind the fact that some really cool apps might get the axe, then apple is for you. If you can check permissions yourself and take the inherent risk involved, then you will end up with more options for apps for example wifi tether.

    I agree that Apple has some more refined apps, hopefully some day we will be on par. Either way, i wouldnt trade refinement for lack of user control. .02
    OK, so as a consumer how am I supposed to know what an app NEEDS access to to function? I'm not a computer whiz; like many people I just own a droid and assume apps in the app store are safe to use.

    In my example with tubemate, this company obvioulsy has access to it's customers information, then gets kicked out of the app store by google. That certainly sounds like a breach of security to me.
    Good question. What you should do is read the reviews on the app, then I would go to Google and do this: (app name) Droid Forums.

    Let's see what we have had to say about it or if we have discussed it at all. Unless it's brand new if you don't see any discussion, it may be wise to pass.

    New apps can be a bit tricky and I've downloaded one or two that I kind of rolled the dice on. Fortunately I was right they were good apps but I gave it a common sense look. Let's look at something like Android 2 Cloud. Now this app excited me because what it did was it allowed me to put the screen on my Droids browser on to my computers Chrome Browser. I looked at what accesses it was requesting, felt yes, it needed access to the internet, yes. Later we were contacted by the dev who asked for phone access. I had already had conversations with the dev, felt comfortable with this and I did it.

    So far no issues, and it appears to be a popular app.
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  6. Master Droid
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    I do what Hook suggested. Read the reviews and if it asks for too many permissions I say "no" and don't download. If I read something on this forum about an app and it seems like one I want, then I download it again, once again reading reviews and deciding on permissions.

    And using common sense like you did with the app.

    Some do need access to certain things, some don't.

    If you find one asking for too many permissions, then you can go back to the market and see if there is another one that is similar that doesn't ask for too many or permissions you are comfortable with.

    I've had my Droid since May 10 and so far no problems. Haven't even had to exchange it or anything. Okay a couple battery pulls but that was mostly user error. I still add aps and delete ones I'm not using or forgot to delete after I never used them.

    Oh the Googling to see if apps are good is a great idea. I read that on another board recently too. Adding "droid forums" to the search is a great idea.
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    I also find the way android apps permissions are managed to be deficient... I really miss the RIM / Blackberry way of managing app permissions that would allow the user to override and modify default permission of an installed application... I would really love to be able to turn off location awareness that is built into alot of apps when it is only used to supply location info to advertisers... I tend to buy apps instead of using ad supported ones, but sometimes there isn't always a choice.

    I also find that almost all apps that use the internet, even just for ads, require permissions related to phone use; I think they do this because CDMA carriers like verizon cannot run data and voice at the same time, but it is also a ripe target for more malicous apps... users are left to hope and wish that an app is safe without any method (..other than not installing 90% of apps) to really know for sure.

    It would be nice if the OS could log what sites / IP addresses that apps are sending and retrieving information from... it would make it much easier to spot the bad ones!
    Last edited by travisn000; 01-28-2011 at 11:04 AM.
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    DroidWall is a great app. It lets you choose which apps can access 3G or WiFi connections. The only downside is it requires root (not that root is bad, its just not everyone is rooted).

    DroidWall - Android Firewall
    by Rodrigo ZR
    10,000 downloads, 529 ratings (4.6 avg)
    Free
  9. Droid Sensei
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    I find Droids app market to be a little low class compared to Apple. Apple Apps are more polished, and you aren't forced to comply to a variety of demands just to download an app (I'm sure Apple uses a more sweeping legal statement in it's 58 page license agreement) and Dorid Apps are clearly not even developed in the USA. You can tell by the broken english text used in their simple messages that appear on your device.
    There are such vague, sweeping generalizations in this post (and the subject line itself) that it's really impossible to hold a discussion. I don't see how Apple's market is more "high class" with its countless fart and similar apps. Android apps are developed in a number of countries, including the US.

    However, if you prefer the Apple market then by all means go with iOS. There are certainly people that prefer Apple's walled garden. With Android you do need to perform your due diligence. Some apps are safe, some are not.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    OK, so as a consumer how am I supposed to know what an app NEEDS access to to function? I'm not a computer whiz;
    You don't need to be. Use Google. Use this site.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    Mark my words...when the viruses make their way to hand held devices it's gonna get very ugly.
    Trojans are really more of an issue.
    Last edited by takeshi; 01-28-2011 at 12:30 PM.
  10. Senior Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew C View Post
    DroidWall is a great app. It lets you choose which apps can access 3G or WiFi connections. The only downside is it requires root (not that root is bad, its just not everyone is rooted).

    DroidWall - Android Firewall
    by Rodrigo ZR
    10,000 downloads, 529 ratings (4.6 avg)
    Free

    ..that is perfect... thanks for the tip!


    I also did some searching and found a couple of interesting apps for viewing permission & monitoring apps:

    Permission viewers:
    PermissionViewer by youten - gives good graphical representation of which apps are using the most permissions.. click an app in the list for more details

    S2 permission checker by Futaba - similar to the above, but lists number of permission used by each app, with click to see details; this one also gives better descriptions of what a permission entails (use/risk). It also allows you to select a given permission (ie. Internet) and then get a list of all apps that have permission to access that function.

    Monitoring:
    Task Idenentifier (beta) by JG&R2 - a monitoring app designed to alert the user when an app or process is run. Not too sure about the usefulness of this one; it would be more useful if you could get notifications if / when apps accessed certain permissions/functions, but appearently this is not possible if I understand the way that android permissions work (..they are granted at install time, not run time.. more info here: Security and Permissions | Android Developers)
    Last edited by travisn000; 01-28-2011 at 02:16 PM.
  11. Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by takeshi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    I find Droids app market to be a little low class compared to Apple. Apple Apps are more polished, and you aren't forced to comply to a variety of demands just to download an app (I'm sure Apple uses a more sweeping legal statement in it's 58 page license agreement) and Dorid Apps are clearly not even developed in the USA. You can tell by the broken english text used in their simple messages that appear on your device.
    There are such vague, sweeping generalizations in this post (and the subject line itself) that it's really impossible to hold a discussion. I don't see how Apple's market is more "high class" with its countless fart and similar apps. Android apps are developed in a number of countries, including the US.

    However, if you prefer the Apple market then by all means go with iOS. There are certainly people that prefer Apple's walled garden. With Android you do need to perform your due diligence. Some apps are safe, some are not.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    OK, so as a consumer how am I supposed to know what an app NEEDS access to to function? I'm not a computer whiz;
    You don't need to be. Use Google. Use this site.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottzilla View Post
    Mark my words...when the viruses make their way to hand held devices it's gonna get very ugly.
    Trojans are really more of an issue.

    No offense but I find it impossible to have a discussion with anyone who takes such a defensive posture at the mere mention of Apple.

    I'm pretty sure that if you asked anyone who walked out of a Verizon store if the App market is safe, they would say "Yes" simply because Verizon told them so and the Apple store is indeed safe. So Droid is riding Apple's coat tails in this regard.
    Truth be told, im not an Apple guy. I own a couple Ipods.
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