Mobile operating system wars: Android vs. iOS
by Catalin Cosoi - Chief Security Strategist, Bitdefender - Tuesday, 16 July 2013.
An old proverb has it that if you’re not paying for it, then you are the product being sold. The free application ecosystem is actually free for the user, but is heavily monetized by the developer. Succinctly put, the application becomes free only after the user has paid for it with his or her privacy. And the situation is even worse, as paying for an application neither stops the private information flow, nor brings back the information already stored on file. More than that, information collection takes place without the user even being aware of what they agree with during installation.

The ad-supported model has been around since the emergence of Internet and dramatically contributed to the expansion of the Web as we know it. Sources all over the world have signed up for advertising programs that pay for traffic and allow content to be distributed for free to the user.

But mobile adware is totally different: adware tightly integrates with the device – it does not run inside the browser, isolated from other applications. On mobiles, advertising frameworks can learn your communications habits, friends, friends’ contacts, location and – more frequently – all of the above at the same time. This turns them into the modern equivalent of spyware built into the device you’re using the most throughout the day.

Through Clueful, our mission is to shed some light into the application ecosystem as well as to clearly pinpoint the privacy threats the user exposes to when installing something as simple as an application.

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