More than half of the top 60 Android shopping apps collect users’ personal information through trackers, a new study finds.
The result is from a privacy risk assessment on Opera Max, a leading data management and data savings app for Android. The 60 most popular shopping apps were reviewed using privacy mode on this app. Another research shows that personal information such as user’s name, email address, locations, search terms and phone number are shared with third parties through trackers.
The study also shows that as many as 96% of the shopping apps did not use full encryption to connect the apps to their servers. This poses privacy risks to mobile shoppers when they are using these apps.
Personal data can be shared with third parties through trackers on shopping apps or unencrypted http connections over mobile carrier connections. Sensitive data such as bank account numbers and other financial information, which are stored in online retailer accounts or shopping apps, can be intercepted and read by identity thieves via public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
“Most people would not reveal their credit card details or full name to employees of a physical store where they live when shopping and browsing for products. But, on mobile apps people are not aware that this kind of information can be shared,” says Sergey Lossev, Head of Product, Opera Max. “That is why we have implemented privacy mode in Opera Max. We want to educate our users by revealing which apps are sharing your data through trackers without your permission.”
New Opera Max enhances Android users’ privacy
Today, Opera Max brings its new privacy mode feature to all users. It offers real-time alerts on the privacy mode timeline so that users can easily see which apps are sending high-risk requests, thus putting their privacy at risk. Once Opera Max’s privacy mode is activated, it also encrypts virtually all app data traffic and blocks almost all types of data trackers to ensure users can shop with peace of mind.
“Once you know how many trackers and unsecured connection requests your apps have sent out, you may want to ensure all your app traffic is protected and encrypted by Opera Max. You can then protect your privacy when shopping. Just take a look at what your apps are doing and decide for yourself,” adds Lossev.
About the shopping privacy assessment
These results are from a test we have done on the 60 most popular shopping apps in ten countries, including Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam. We tested them on Wi-Fi networks and made at least 100 requests within each app by browsing random products. Then we recorded the result based on what was shown on the timeline of Opera Max’s privacy mode.
*This article was first released on our press site on www.operasoftware.com.
**Update on Nov 3 2016: We took out the names of top 60 shopping apps we tested to avoid confusion or misunderstanding.