Angry Birds and other “leaky” apps used by NSA to grab user data

Jan 27, 2014
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The NSA likes it when mobile users download so-called "leaky" apps, a new report by The Guardian reveals. The reason? These apps, with Angry Birds being specified among them, allows the intelligence agency to gather pieces of information on users, such as phone information and location. The same method is reportedly being used by the United Kingdom's GCHQ spy agency.

The information comes from "top secret documents," and involves mobile apps that shuttle user information over the Internet, making it vulnerable. Among the information the NSA and others can acquire is handset make and model and display size, location, the owner's name, gender, sexual preferences and orientation, and more. The info is pulled from various surveillance means.

One screenshot was posted of a document from May 2010, detailing what information the NSA can gather when a mobile user uploads a photograph to a social network, calling it a "Golden Nugget!" From this common mobile act, the agency says it can get contacts lists, email selector, the phone info, possibly the image itself, location, and "a host of other social working data".

Dependent on the information a mobile phone user has in a profile, the agency can ultimately gather a large roster of details about an individual, including things like their marital status, how many kids they have, education and income level, where they're from and where they go, age, and more. Information from Google Maps is also used for data, though the overall extent of these efforts isn't entirely clear.

SOURCE: The Guardian


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