When downloading a application From the Google Play Store, users can check all information requested by the app, including permissions, personal information, etc. through the Data Security section. Over time, malicious actors have learned sophisticated techniques to obtain rogue apps from legitimate online stores, including the Google Play Store.
Recently, Google removed four apps downloaded over 100,000 times from the Play Store. These apps spread Joker malware, which is extremely dangerous. Once users download these or other infected apps, malware is deployed on their device which helps malicious actors to gain access to it. It is worth mentioning that one of these apps was available on the Play Store from November 2020 while the others were released in June.
In an official blog post, Google describes data security as a section where developers should share more information about how apps”collect, share and secure user data.“Simply put, the Data Security section shows users all the data an app collects, information an app shares with other parties, system resources an app needs to access, and the underlying purpose. In addition, the section also contains information about the security practices implemented by the applications and whether they are eligible for the global security standard.Google launched the Data Security section in April, and the developers got the date deadline of July 20, 2022 to submit the required information.
How to Check All Data Collected by an App
To view the Data Security section before (or after) downloading an app, search for it on the Google Play Store, tap the result to open the app’s page, and scroll down to locate ‘Data security.’ This is just below the ‘About this app‘ section. On tapping the right arrow, users will first see the ‘Shared data‘ by the application with other companies or organizations, which could include the personal information of the user and the identifier of the device. By scrolling down, users can see the ‘Data collected‘ by the application, which is done by requesting permissions. Finally, the Data Security section discusses security practices such as encryption techniques. By looking at these types of data, users should get a clear idea of what information an app collects once it is downloaded and used. Additionally, the Data Security section should help filter out malicious apps.
For example, suppose a user wants to download Facebook. Once they locate the Data Security section on the app page, they will notice that the section displays a summary of data sharing, collection, and security practices. By expanding the Data Security section, users will find that Facebook shares their name and email address with other companies or organizations for fraud prevention, security, and compliance. Additionally, the Data Security section also states that the Facebook app may collect such types of data as approximate location, personal information, messages, and photos/videos. Regarding security practices, the section mentions that Facebook transfers its data over a secure connection, and users can ask the platform to delete their data. Although this is just an example, the Data Security section is in place for all apps on Google Play Store.