The iOS apps for both President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s campaigns are tracking users and communicating with external sources, such as ad networks. According to Domingo Guerra, president and co-founder of Appthority, “Mitt Romney’s app for iOS can access contact lists and calendar information. Barack Obama’s app for iOS can identify device type and send out data without encryption, making it possible for some data transmitted by the app to be intercepted.”
User accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps can also be accessed by the apps, Guerra said.
With mobile computing becoming the way of the future, the two presidential campaigns developed smartphone apps, yet it seems that cyber security was not considered an issue. Whether or not that was intentional, will remain a secret we think.
Guerra also said that although these apps do not seem to access any financial information, the leaks that these apps are creating is most likely a lot more than what the users bargained for.
“In general, we believe that the Obama and Romney apps are safe and reasonably designed from the security and privacy perspective,” Guerra said. “While they do have access to information such as the contact book, and do transmit some data over HTTP and not over SSL, they do not appear to carry out clearly undesirable activities,” he added. “The apps are okay as they don’t put user-related information at significant risk.”
Guerra states that the best way to avoid these kind of security risks would be to not download any of these type of apps at all. Hmmm… I don’t know how happy the campaigns will be about hearing that. Yet, if you do choose to download one of the apps, GPS and contact list access should be turned off, and any other feature that would allow the app to access any kind of personal information.
Apps should also be downloaded from the Apple or Android app stores, not from just any website.