Private data security and privacy on Apple devices is a major reason for Apple to brag about, but it seems that not the same can be said about some apps that run on Apple devices.
TechCrunch has created a study focused on many iOS apps that are using a service called Glassbox to record everything users do while using those apps, and the data is then sent to their own servers. The problem is when the data relayed to those servers also include passwords or bank accounts.
Glassbox is a service that offers app developers the possibility of recording user activity with the purpose of detecting problems and to improve services. The entire activity is recorded, so passwords and bank accounts can be stored on the Glassbox servers. While Glassbox is trying to delete this data, its systems are not 100% efficient so some details can remain in the database.
TechCrunch has created this study with the help of a researcher we know online as “App Analyst”. In the past he revealed that the Air Canada app tracked everything users were doing on the phone, while the systems that were supposed to ensure privacy were not always efficient. The Air Canada app was also using Glassbox services to monitor its users.
According to App Analyst, the apps tested for this study such as Hotels.com, Expedia and Abercrombie & Fitch, store personal information about users using Glassbox but users are not notified this is happening. Also, there is no option to disable tracking inside the apps.
The problem is not that Glassbox or the developer of the app are storing private information, because such as company will never be legally able to use the personal information of users, but there is a high risk for the information to be compromised by hackers.
Apple’s terms of service does not cover such services at this time, but in the future Apple might ban them if their are violating users privacy without asking for permission. Glassbox is not the only provider of such services as there are others such as UXCam and Appsee. Also, they are not exclusively available for iOS as these apps and services are also available for Android.