Popular cryptographic app linked to data trackers sanewnetworks.com
Android versions of the popular cryptocurrency app Bitcoin Ticker Widget and an apparent Steemit clone, Steemit Earn Money, have included software development kit (SDK) tools that extract extensive user data in the past and are potentially linked to location tracking code from X-Mode a sadly a well-known data tracking company, according to a new report from Express VPN Digital Security Lab. Two other personal finance apps were found to contain these data trackers as well.
Collection of personal data
While there are many companies that buy and sell access to location data from unsuspecting phones, X-Mode has come under scrutiny after its connections to government contractors and the military were discovered.
SDK and X-Mode Data Brokers
SDKs are basic tools that enable developers to build applications faster and easier. However, these tools may contain code that is not necessary for the main function of the application. This extra code can track location, retrieve data, and typically pass the information back to the SDK creator. This information can then be transferred or sold for various purposes.
OneAudience, Opensignal and Location Data Tracking
OneAudience, included in both the Bitcoin Ticker Widget and Steemit Earn Money, was one of the data broker trackers mentioned in the X-Mode code as part of the SDK. Facebook blocked it and sued for a privacy breach due to the data that the OneAudience SDK collected.
Large amount of personal data
After going back and looking at the reports and network traffic of these applications, O’Brien made two important takeaways when it came to the impact on your privacy.
Data is usually not handled very well, he said. And there is a lot of data that can be used to identify the person who passes through the channel, even if location is the only named reason for collecting the data.
If you choose to continue using apps like Bitcoin Ticker Widget and Steemit Earn Money, there are ways to limit their data tracking capabilities. O’Brien said users should go into settings and check permissions for the app, especially location permissions, and revoke them.
This could mean that the application becomes less functional or displays annoying screens asking for permission, he said. Otherwise, unfortunately, all that remains is to uninstall the application. If you are a California or [European Union] resident, there are some other steps you may take to request the deletion of information, or at least request a copy of the information they hold.