Android ruins permissions? Cnet spreads a BS and marketing ploy by SMobile…

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Thread: Android ruins permissions? Cnet spreads a BS and marketing ploy by SMobile…

  1. #1
    Junior Member vkelman's Avatar
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    Unhappy Android ruins permissions? Cnet spreads a BS and marketing ploy by SMobile…

    Cnet article
    Cnet was spreading a BS and marketing ploy from a company which is trying to sell its own "security" application. In an original article, Cnet repeated a misleading marketing information from a anti-spyware firm called SMobile, which claimed that 20% of Android apps are spying on users, share private data, even places some invisible for a phone owner calls and SMS...

    What is interesting, Cnet realized their mistake and radically edited their article! I wish I copied an original article to be able to show what they did!

    "Android requires application developers to declare the permissions their application will need in order to interact with the system and its data" and SMobile is sucking an information which is freely available and required for each app and trying to sell it to us! There is an obvious conflict of interests. Every technically-savvy Internet user knows that 90% of so called “free antivirus and anti-spam” software is bogus, trying to sell us unnecessary things and displaying false alarms.

    As it was mentioned in one comment, iPhone apps do the same thing as Android apps, because it's just required by their functionality, but don't advertise as clearly and loud as Android apps what they can do.

    As we know, Android OS automatically prohibits any app from accessing a resource in case this access wasn’t declared. Does iPhone OS do this? It sounds like a better control than a human looking on each app source code. With 200,000 apps in iPhone Store I highly doubt that every app was really inspected. I think I’ve heard about some apps being pulled from App Store *afterwards*…
    Also, users voting for an app by downloading it IS a pretty strict control. There was an information about Wikipedia being almost as accurate as Britannica...

    Now, let’s think about what could and should be done.

    As ztts said in a Cnet comment,
    ”This is one of the most remarkably misinformed articles I've read in a long time. Of course some apps have access to sensitive information. If an app is meant to help organize contacts, for example, of course it has access to your contacts. This is true on any platform, and is obvious and unavoidable. The nice thing about he Android market is that, whenever you download an new app, it informs you of exactly what sensitive information it has access to, so one can make an informed decision. The fact that an app has access to information does not mean that it misuses it, as this article implies that 20% of all apps do. Truly sensationalist reporting.”

    inetperu says in Cnet comment,
    "Palm is taking the lead on this one I think. Personal data is locked down pretty tight - too tight actually since some apps are not even possible with the current restrictions. The ideal system would be for a permission based system like Palm WebOS uses for apps that require GPS data. When you install the app it notifies you that the app needs access to the GPS data and you can accept or deny. Something similar could be used to allow an app limited access to your address book, phone functions, SMS, etc. The user GRANTS permission to the app after being warned of possible abuse AND if access to those sensitive areas were logged automatically so that the user could review it every so often it would keep bad developers in check. Imagine an app that could scrape your entire address book, phone records, GPS history, etc. - a spammer/stalker/identity theirs dream app."

    Limited access sounds like a useful idea, but... But if an app is denied a permission it was asking for *during its installation*, it then cannot perform normally, right? And asking for a permission *every time it is needed* is not a solution either, because it would create a nightmare user experience (I remember Zone Alarm doing that, as a result I just uninstalled Zone Alarm. Most users would do the same.)
    Obviously, Android's way of declaring necessary permissions during installation is far from being an ultimate solution either, because most of the users will install apps anyway - if they need them.

    WebOS performs a required and automatic logging of an access to sensitive areas, right? That's sounds like a really good idea. Such system logs can then be analyzed by [system] security software.
    I'm pretty sure Windows has this mechanism as well. Isn't there a similar API in Android OS? I don't believe Google didn't pay attention to this area.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member dimmakherbs's Avatar
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    I read the article and was mad, then I read the first like 40 comments and then I got really mad. What a BS article. These apps exist because Android give you the option to NOT use standard Android only processes like Apple does.
    Well if I use a different app for messaging like Shoutout, don't you think that would have permission to use my phonebook and send SMS? DUH!
    Because I can replace my launcher, don't you think that has the ability to directly make calls? DUH!!!

    completely taken out of context and horrible journalism
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  4. #3
    Super Moderator sliceburgslim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dimmakherbs View Post
    I read the article and was mad, then I read the first like 40 comments and then I got really mad. What a BS article. These apps exist because Android give you the option to NOT use standard Android only processes like Apple does.
    Well if I use a different app for messaging like Shoutout, don't you think that would have permission to use my phonebook and send SMS? DUH!
    Because I can replace my launcher, don't you think that has the ability to directly make calls? DUH!!!

    completely taken out of context and horrible journalism
    I agree this article is Terrible.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Gwhiz2k's Avatar
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    Admittedly, I'm a bit of a CNET Junkie...

    Saw that one earlier... I'm actually commenting on Page 3... There are a lot of fanbois over there...

    I'm highly suspicious of some of the pro-Apple comments. If you notice the time the article was posted, the worst of the anti-Android, pro-Apple comments all happen within the next 1/2 hour, with normal comments after that. Tag me as paranoid if you must, but I do believe that Apple actually PAYS people to "Astroturf" comments on popular news sites, just to spread FUD. I even more believe that they pay lots of journalists to write this kind of crap.

    Pretty damned scary actually. Jobs is a monster.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Gwhiz2k's Avatar
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    Hmmm... They changed the headline since I was there this morning...

    Can't believe they radically re-edited the article... Damn.. I actually had that page in another tab, and refreshed it

    I could have copied the original text

  7. #6
    Junior Member vkelman's Avatar
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    An author of Cnet article even appologized in a comment for my blog post (see my Wonderful Android blog.) Such things don't happen too often, do they? Obviously, she was misled by that bogus anti-spyware firm.

  8. #7
    Junior Member vkelman's Avatar
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    About conspiracy theories

    @Gwhiz2k,
    I was doubtful about your "conspiracy theory", but today I got some indirect confirmation: take a look at this ZDNet article by Ed Brunette "CNET retracts article on Android app privacy threat". Ed said,
    SMobile Systems neglected to mention industry ties that rendered its report less credible. For example, their President and Vice President of Operations are former AT&T employees
    .

  9. #8
    Senior Member Gwhiz2k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vkelman View Post
    @Gwhiz2k,
    I was doubtful about your "conspiracy theory", but today I got some indirect confirmation: take a look at this ZDNet article by Ed Brunette "CNET retracts article on Android app privacy threat". Ed said,
    SMobile Systems neglected to mention industry ties that rendered its report less credible. For example, their President and Vice President of Operations are former AT&T employees
    .
    I know that every site that allows public comments will have some element of of "fanboy" flaming, but on the news sites, it just seems to be even more so....

    With the whole "HTML5 vs Flash" thing especially. It was like you suddenly had all these people who were doing nothing more than parroting the Steve Jobs "Thoughts on Flash" page word for word. I would chime in as an actual expert, ie: someone who ACTUALLY knows HTML5, as well as Flash, and get immediately shot down by people who were completely wrong. That whole experience drastically changed my mind about how the "Internet News" industry is run. I could not believe how much disinformation actually gets spread around out there. It's an eye-opener when you start to see all the news sites spreading lies about something you know backwards and forwards. Check out any CNET (or any other news site) article that even MENTIONS Flash, and you'll get a whole slew of "Flash is Dead, long live HTML5" type comments. I started to think something was up when I saw most of these people were on Macs, and most talked about a "Click to Flash" program, repeating almost word for word the same thing. It starts to reek of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) marketing techniques.

    I had previously only thought such tactics existed on traditional media like Fox News, but it's alive and well on the Internet as well. Only more much more insidious, because it gives the impression that you're getting the low-down from "real" people. It really does show that you cannot believe everything you read.

    With SEO marketing, the whole idea is to get as many text mentions of whatever it is your trying to push on as many pages as possible. The best way to do this is to spread FUD to get people talking about it. Steve Jobs is smart. It's no coincidence that his "Thoughts on Flash" gets a #1 spot on Google for a search on "flash apple". Everyone that links to that page drives up its "link popularity". People will believe the more they see something, the more it MUST be true.

    SEO is now big business, and big businesses will pay big bucks to have their Google rankings improve. The money they used to spend on traditional advertising is probably now equally matched for SEO. SEO experts are ruthless, and will employ whatever means necessary to achieve their means.

    Quickest way for SMobile (AT&T connection notwithstanding) to get attention? A sensational headline that gets the Apple VS Android war going. Best way for Steve Jobs to further his anti-Flash agenda? Write a page on it, then get people talking about it. Better yet, PAY some people to actually talk about it: Astroturfing.

    [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing[/ame]

  10. #9
    Junior Member vkelman's Avatar
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    Story continues... it's like endless waves spreading around the net after one intentional falsification....

  11. #10
    Senior Member Gwhiz2k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vkelman View Post
    Story continues... it's like endless waves spreading around the net after one intentional falsification....
    You're doing the right thing by commenting on these. I applaud you.

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