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Russia’s Biggest Internet Search Engine Could Put Smartphone Users’ Data At Risk With Its New Software

Russia’s largest internet firm could soon be putting the world’s smartphone users’ data at risk with its latest software development.

Alarming reports suggest how Russian authorities could potentially be tracking down users’ data through app software that’s designed keeping this malicious intent in mind, as reported on Thursday by the Financial Times.

The company called Yandex could be carrying out these actions through its new software development kit, also known as ‘AppMetrica’ that allows creators to design applications for all devices running across both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems.

But how exactly can the software app do just that? Well, tech giants believe AppMetrica allows for user data collection that is then forwarded to various servers in both Finland and Russia.

Information given to Russia could furthermore be accessed by the government to track certain individuals, mentioned the Financial Times.

So far, AppMetrica has managed to install games, different messaging applications, and a number of VPNs.

In case you weren’t aware, Yandex is similar to being the equivalent of Google in Russia and for that reason, it’s coming under great scrutiny too, especially after the recent invasion of Russian forces in Ukraine.

Not only has AppMetrica been accused of censoring reports coming out of Ukraine, but the organization’s former news lead was also accused of ordering his colleagues to quit, due to the great spread of misinformation and helping with censorship.

Other reports go as far as suggesting how sanctions from the Western world tallied up against Russia to trigger the resignation of a number of the board members too.

One expert by the name of Zach Edwards who made the shocking discovery revealed how AppMetrica’s software development kit is so intricately designed that it can invasively dive deep into a user’s meta details and track their existence through both apps and websites.

This means so many smartphone users are currently at risk of vicious attacks or other types of alarming surveillance, especially those with the most ‘high profile jobs’.

In a surprising attempt, Yandex did confirm to a newspaper how its software does indeed collect device and network IP addresses that are further stored in both Russia and Finland. However, it specified how it was only limited data that was not capable of identifying users.

They further elaborated on the company’s stance of holding a strict code of conduct whenever it chooses to deal with requests from the government.

It concluded how its mechanism of action was quite similar to ‘international peers’ like Google’s Firebase but many are still skeptical about its justification.


Read next: Apple is amping up its privacy plans and restricting apps from selling personal data of users to advertisers

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