Vacation Goers Warned As Top Travel Apps Can Access And Collect Users’ Sensitive Data

Summertime is upon us all and that means saying hello to vacations galore. Most of us resort to convenient means for holiday planning and that includes travel apps.

However, a new study is shedding light on how such methods can no longer be trusted as your ultimate planning companion and how some of the most popular platforms out there can be invasive beyond bounds.

We’re talking about collecting users’ sensitive data and harvesting that to gain benefits. Be it your calls, messages, camera, or even microphone - they have access to it all. And some were shown to go as far as making calls on the users’ behalf.

Despite the shocking news, we know for a fact that most of us are still going to resort to using these platforms when planning a trip. This is why we’re going down deep into the findings, what you need to be careful about, and how such unfortunate circumstances can be prevented in the first place.

The study entailed 22 of the world’s most commonly used travel and hospitality platforms that millions of users continue to download via the Play Store. So, what did the authors of the study find?

Some of the platforms failed to disclose how they were collecting users’ sensitive information and for what purpose it was doing so. Moreover, some included built-in permissions that enable developers to access data found on the user’s device like their location, camera, and even messages.

Those who requested for sensitive permission linked to the device system were highlighted as red flags. They give rise to malicious material of poor design. A lot of these apps requested the exact user location to market promotions despite consent.

So yes, not only were movements getting tracked but companies were given no restriction from selling personalized ads. And if that was not scary enough, more than 12 apps had exclusive access to the camera on the device.

This means they can capture images and record videos or even go as far as generating video calls. Shockingly, these host of apps were the ones who asked at the start if they could be granted permission so that user analytics and functionality could be recorded.

All such apps have your phone numbers and can go about reading the state of your device which is very personal.

A leading concern has to do with hotel booking and how rental apps don’t have real reasons to really take on such information. Other apps like MakeMyTrip could go about reading text messages.

Data belonging to senders and receivers and message dates were also stolen by these apps even if they had no right to do so. Meanwhile, all of the user’s sensitive material was taken like PINs, passcodes, and whatnot and this is very worrying.

Another app you might wish to reconsider while using is HotelTonight. This could manipulate file systems, while the popular Hilton hotel app can go about controlling dialog boxes seen on a device. Furthermore, the Chinese-based app has the capability of altering languages and making changes to user’s settings. How scary is that, considering its massive user base.

Changes include altering WiFI, sound, and also display. This can further interfere with your usage with more apps. Experts claim that all apps included in the test knew the user’s whereabouts.

Experts claim the best way to avoid this kind of tracking is never to blindly allow app permissions. Always take some time out to review them as misuse can cost you in the long run.

H/T: CyberNews

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