- Jan 8, 2011
- Operating System
Apple has updated its rules to restrict app developers’ ability to harvest data from mobile phones, which could be bad news for a Facebook-owned data security app called Onavo Protect.
Onavo ostensibly provides users with a free virtual private network (VPN) which, it claims, helps “keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web”. What is not immediately obvious is that it feeds information to Facebook about what other apps you are using and how much you are using them back to the social networking giant.
“The problem with Onavo is that it talks about being a VPN that keeps your data private, but behind the scenes it’s harvesting your data for Facebook,” said Ryan Dochuk, CEO of the paid-for VPN TunnelBear. “It goes against what people generally expect when they use a VPN.”
“If you’re not paying with your money you are probably paying with your data,” said Will Strafach, a security specialist who has analysed the Onavo app.
"Onavo collects data on other apps via networks, rather than through devices. The iPhone maker already blocks apps from getting information from other apps on the device itself via a technology called sandboxing.
Apple’s new guidelines "sound like they’re almost written in response to what Onavo and others have been doing," said Will Strafach, a researcher who has studied Onavo Protect and focuses on the security of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment."