As of 2023, there are around 8.9 million apps available around the world for both iOS and Android users. For many apps, however, users are asked for permission to access their contacts, location, and even their camera.
As well as this, they are asked to enter into an agreement that involves the app processing their usage data, and using it to personalize and upgrade the users – and other users – experience.
Ordinarily, this is something that users are happy to do, but not everyone knows exactly why app developers need their data, the full extent of how that data is used, or how simple it can be to perform digital data removal and stop companies from profiting off their sensitive information.
The Value Of Crash Data
Every time an app crashes, the developers will have a log report, which reveals information about the origin of that crash, as well as other details that backtrace each thread.
Compared to usage data, this is relatively benign. The compilation of crash data is then focused on debugging the app, making sure that the security is sturdy and the experience is still strong for users.
The Value Of Usage Data
When it comes to contact, location, and camera access, this is ordinarily needed to make the app work. On the other hand, usage data – as mentioned previously – is generally processed and collected to improve the overall app experience.
There are many cases, however, where this is not the case. For usage data, specifically, there can be a lot of value generated for developers. For instance, they can collect and sell this data to third parties, with information including a user’s name, age, gender, search history, and sometimes even location data.
Earlier this year, apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn, TextNow, and Houseparty were found to be the most popular apps to harvest data and then sell to third parties. In a study back in 2020, researchers also found that more than 1,000 Android apps were harvesting and selling data, even after the user told them that they did not consent. With this leaving users vulnerable to targeted ads, phishing scams, identity theft, and more, data removal has never been more important to take back control and halt a personal digital footprint from spreading further.
Keeping Your Data Secure
With the number of apps for Android and iPhone rising every year, it is important for users to be proactive as well as reactive when it comes to their data. Apart from removing your data online and opting out of data brokers, you should also think about the kind of app that you are downloading before you do so. Has it come from an official app store? What kind of permissions is it asking for, and are those app requests really needed for the provided experience?
As well as this, you need to look at limiting your location permissions. For instance, some apps do need your location in order to function, but only when the app is in use – whereas many permissions involve handing over your location data at all times. You should also look at the amount of apps you have, and decide which ones are really necessary. The ones that aren’t necessary are unnecessarily collecting your data, so it is best to recognize those apps and keep your mobile data safe by deleting them.
In terms of cybersecurity, too, it is also worth remembering that the cybersecurity world is changing every day. While the techniques of cyberattackers change and improve, so too does software security, but it will only be effective if you keep apps updated as soon as the updates are released. Your usage data is your own and no one else’s, so make sure you know how to both delete and control it.