Meaning, these apps had access to private information, with 27% having access to GPS locations, whereas 19% could access the user’s camera without notice. What’s more baffling is that these apps had a total of 21 million consumer reviews on the App Store before being delisted. This only showcases that even in 2021, you can’t rely on just reviews and need to defend your privacy.
What is more concerning is that these harmful apps may remain installed on your phone even if the app was delisted from the app store. The Delisted Mobile App Report indicates that 5% of the delisted apps had no identifiable address, while 83% didn’t have any address listed at all.
In the case of the Google Play Store’s apps, about 66% of the delisted apps had at least one dangerous permission, such as access to your camera or GPS location. Here are 8 of the most popular delisted apps:
- YOLO: Anonymous Q&A – 731,394 ratings
- Arctic Remote – 698,107 ratings
- EiuGuy Curtain – 314,984 ratings
- Kleiderkreisel – 310,383 ratings
- Quik – GoPro Video Editor – 273,562 ratings
- Word Streak With Friends – 240,770 ratings
- Tropical Rewards App – 207,782 ratings
- Ultimate Disc – 196,165 ratings
Android apps appear to be even more dangerous. As stated above, 66% of the delisted apps in the Google Play Store had at least one dangerous permission, whereas, in the Apple App Store, only 8% had potentially unsafe permissions. Some examples of dangerous permissions include:
- Writing to external storage automatically
- Initiating a phone call without going through a dialer
- Recording audio
- Reading messages from the contacts list
- Access to camera & GPS location
From the study conducted by Pixalate, it appears 20,000 apps had over 100,000 user downloads before the delisting took place, and, in total, the removed apps were downloaded 9.2 billion times in the first half of 2021. Interestingly, the most popular removed apps had their origin in Asia, from locations such as China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, and some else from Google themselves (Cloud Print, for example).
It seems that privacy violations will remain a common threat in 2021 and beyond. However, you can protect your privacy by following three simple steps.
- Step 1 – Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN for Android or an iOS VPN can do wonders for your privacy and search intentions. As the internet grows ever more restrictive and privacy violations rise, a VPN can help you stay safe. It will encrypt your data even when using public WI-FI, hide your IP, hide you from advertisers, and won’t store your online activity.
- Step 2 – Don’t Carelessly Download Third-party Apps
No matter how good that app may sound or how much you think you may need it, always check thoroughly before downloading anything on your device. As seen in the report above, even good-rated apps may potentially be dangerous.
- Step 3 – Be Wary of Giving Access to Apps
Always check what types of access you are giving away to your apps. Why would a video editor need your location? Since so many apps were delisted by both Apple App Store and Google Play Store, be sure to do a check-up of the apps you currently have on your device and what they have access to.