The websites and apps you use on a daily basis are leaking your data

The websites and apps you use on a daily basis are leaking your data
(Picture: Getty Images)

Almost all of the apps and websites you use are leaking your data to third parties – usually without your knowledge.

A study from MIT, Harvard and Carnegie-Mellon looked at 110 iOS and Android apps.

It found that 73 per cent of Android apps shared users’ email addresses, and 47 per cent of iOS apps shared location data.

And a separate report from University of Pennsylvania privacy researcher Tim Limbert revealed around 90 per cent of websites leak information to third-party sources, which users are ‘usually unaware of’.

‘There is one web users see in their browsers, but there is a much larger hidden web that is looking back at them,’ he told Motherboard.

(Picture: University of Pennsylvania)
(Picture: Harvard University/MIT/Carnegie-Mellon)

But the problem is most stark when it comes to medical apps and websites.

Worryingly, 10 per cent of health and fitness apps researchers looked into shared search terms and user inputs with third parties.

In one case, the Android health app shared sensitive medical information – including words like ‘herpes’ – with five third-party sites, including and

MORE: Hackers broke into the new iPhone remotely – and won $1m from a spy agency

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And Limbert wrote in his study that ’91 per cent of health-related webpages initiate HTTP requests to third-parties. Seventy per cent of these requests include information about specific symptoms, treatment, or diseases (AIDS, Cancer, etc)’, and they largely go to online advertisers.

‘Personal health information,’ he continues, ‘has suddenly become the property of private corporations who may sell it to the highest bidder or accidentally misuse it to discriminate against the ill.’

Christopher Weatherhead, a technologist at Privacy International, told the BBC that the information could also be misused with the new government surveillance bill.

‘With the recently announced draft Investigatory Powers Bill, many of these connections to third-party websites would be retained as internet connection records,’ he said.

‘So even if you have never visited these websites, these would be indistinguishable from your actual web-browsing activity.

‘This would allow the security services to make assumptions about browsing habits which are not correct.’

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8 November 2015 | 11:04 am – Source:


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