Apple threatens to remove all the popular iOS apps that have been secretly recording the user screen without authorization.
Various apps from Hollister, Expedia, and Air Canada used ‘session replay’ of a company called ‘Glassbox’ to record everything that a user does inside an app like every tap on the screen, left or right swipes, any input text etc. It could also possibly be confidential, private data like credit card numbers, passwords, pins, and other contact details. Screenshots of the same are sent to the Glassbox’s cloud or the server directly. Though it is not some hack or a bug. It is just a clever trick of some iOS apps.
Some of the offenders were Abercrombie & Fitch, Expedia, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Hollister, and Hotels.com. According to a report, they didn’t tell the users about the recording. Since then, Apple has instructed that they should inform the users about the action beforehand and probably ask a permission request on approval of which, they can proceed with the recording.
Apple said that user privacy is of utmost priority to their environment and they don’t want to neglect it at any cost. It also requires apps to request for user approval and provide a visual indication of any logging or recording that has to take place. If any of such policies or guidelines are violated, strict action will be taken against them which can also possibly be the removal of the app entirely from the App Store.
An analyst from Apple found that Air Canada did not properly mask the session replays due to which sensitive information would show up regularly on the screen. The company itself revealed a data breach of 20,000 profiles. It was also found that all apps were not involved in the mischief, but none considered it important to ask the user for confirmation.
Glassbox, however, says that they are not allowed access to any information outside of the app. Apple hasn’t yet expressed its views about this privacy concern and all these apps are still available on the App Store for download.
We know that this wasn’t intended and Apple will surely dig in more to know about the issue. Meanwhile, use your phone and applications with full safety and keep a close check for any notifications.