9% of Popular Android apps risk your security and privacy

According to a new study, almost 9 per cent of popular apps downloaded from Google Play interact with websites that could compromise users privacy and security. 

A large-scale analysis of URLs embedded in 13,500 free android apps downloaded from Google Play was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Riverside. The apps which were tested were created by reputable developers and downloaded by many people, among them popular social media, shopping, news and entertainment apps.

By developing and using a tool called AURA (Android URL Risk Assessor), the team identified more than 250,000 URLs accessed by the 13,500 apps, which they cross-referenced for trustworthiness using VirusTotal, a database of malicious URLs and Web of Trust a popular website rating system.

However, apps connect to a complicated network of websites, both to function and generate advertising revenues, researchers said most users do not know their private information could compromised.

It has been found by the researchers that almost nine per cent of the popular apps interacted with malicious URLs, implicated in distribution of malware.

Michalis Faloutsos, a professor at UCR said, "We focused on a relatively neglected aspect of security research, which is the potential for good apps to leak personal information through the sites they interact with". Faloutsos further added, "A lot of people believe that if an app is popular or available on one of the big app stores then it must be safe, and we suspected that wasn’t the case".

Xuetao Wei, professor at the University of Cincinnati in US, said, "The team plans to make AURA available for developers, researchers, android users, and distributors like Google Play".

The researchers suggested users to limit the number of apps on their phones to those they really need and review new apps before downloading them.