Google, Reddit, LinkedIn all caught SPYING on your iPhone with same dodgy trick as TikTok
MORE popular iPhone apps have been accused of snooping on users after TikTok and 50 others were caught red-handed earlier this year.
Google News, Reddit and LinkedIn are among an ever-growing list of apps found to spy on iPhone clipboards without users’ knowledge.
Apps including Reddit and Google News have been caught snooping on iPhone users’ data[/caption]
Experts have warned that prying apps which repeatedly scan clipboards could access sensitive information, such as bank details and passwords.
“This is a problem,” app developer Mark Norton wrote in a blog post about the issue last week.
“I could easily see ‘phishing apps’ starting to pop up (if they are not already) with the sole intention to scrape as much clipboard data as possible.”
The iOS clipboard is an internal tool that lets you temporarily copy text that you can then paste into a different location.
Controversial Chinese video app TikTok was found to exploit the tactic last week[/caption]
Only one snippet of text can be stored on the clipboard at a time. That text may take the form of credit card details, a password or other sensitive data.
In his post, Norton highlighted apps that copied clipboard data on the sly, including some of the App Store’s most popular downloads.
They included LinkedIn, Reddit, Google News, Patreon, Call of Duty, Fruit Ninja and more.
Some apps were found to copy the data after each keystroke, while others scanned it once the app was opened.
While most big-name apps appeared to scrape the data with good intentions, Norton warned that nefarious apps could easily exploit the trick.
“For the most part, the companies that have been getting called out have motive to be ‘good’,” Norton wrote.
“I’m just starting to think about companies or apps that have no intention of being good.”
Reports of mass iPhone snooping surfaced after Apple began testing a new feature that notifies users whenever an app tries to access their clipboard.
The tool is not due for release until later this year, but app developers, including Norton, have been given access to an early “beta” version.
A number of tech nuts using the new feature have since reported just how often apps are flagged for scanning their clipboard.
In February, researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk found 56 apps accessing data from clipboards for no apparent reason.
TikTok: Brief guide to the world’s most downloaded app
- TikTok lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects
- The app is best known for creating short dance videos, lip-syncing clips, comedy sketches, and talent footage
- It is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, founded by the entrepreneur Zhang Yiming
- The $75 billion conglomerate acquired the Musical.ly app in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, bringing millions of new users
- By February 2019, TikTok and Douyin had been downloaded more than a billion times
- And it was the most-downloaded app on the App Store in 2018 and 2019
- Cyber experts have expressed concern over ByteDance’s alleged links to the Chinese government
- The Department of Defense has urged its employees to avoid using the app over national security concerns
TitTok justified its actions by saying it was only trying to prevent spam. It later said it would to remove this feature.
LinkedIn claimed its clipboard snooping was the result of a bug. Reddit said it was releasing a fix on July 14.
“We tracked this down to a codepath in the post composer that checks for URLs in the pasteboard and then suggests a post title based on the text contents of the URL,” a spokesperson told The Verge.
“We do not store or send the pasteboard contents. We removed this code and are releasing the fix on July 14th.”
Reddit, LinkedIn and TikTok claimed they neither stored nor transmitted any of the clipboard data scanned by their apps.
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