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Figure 3: An example of sensitive data sent from the apps to the developer’s web server.
The apps request READ_PHONE_STATE and other permissions at installation, but do not tell users that they will retrieve the device’s phone number and other information and send that to the developer’s server.
There’s no hint in the description of the apps, their screens, the terms and conditions, or the privacy policies. On Google Play these apps are getting very high scores in user reviews, but these unnaturally high scores seem to come from cheating.
In these apps, users need to pay a service fee to chat.
Users of Android devices should always be careful about potential information leaks caused by apps.
If such an information leak is possible, users should always check if the developer of an app is really trustworthy.
Figure 1: Two Japanese chat apps steal a device’s phone number.
The apps, Chatline and Connect Line, give users the impression that the apps are related to Line, a popular messaging app in Japan, though they actually have no relationship at all.