Android owners warned of hidden risk when downloading apps on holiday – The Sun | The Sun

ANDROID owners have been warned the apps they download on holiday may not be as secure as at home – even if they look and feel exactly the same.

Most apps are available globally and appear completely identical no matter where in the world you choose to download them.

But experts have revealed that beneath the surface things could be functioning quite differently – and not necessarily for the better.

User privacy and security can vary considerably when using the same app from country to country, according to the University of Michigan.

A team investigated more than 5,600 popular apps and uncovered hundreds with hidden changes depending on country.

127 of them had so-called "geodifferences" in permissions requested.

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49 of these made requests which are deemed "dangerous".

And more than 100 had very different privacy policies based on country.

Apps in Bahrain, Tunisia and Canada requested the most additional dangerous permissions, experts claim.

"While our study corroborates reports of takedowns due to government requests, we also found many differences introduced by app developers,” said study co-author Renuka Kumar.

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"We found instances of apps with settings and disclosures that expose users to higher or lower security and privacy risks depending on the country in which they’re downloaded."

The research also lifted the lid on the huge number of geoblocked apps – apps which can only be downloaded in certain countries.

They found 3,672 apps in total were blocked in at least one of the 26 countries included in the study.

Iran and Tunisia apparently had the highest blocking rates, with popular apps like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Flipboard and Google Books banned.

VPN apps were often blocked in Turkey and Russia too.

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"Blocking by developers was significantly higher than takedowns requested by governments in all our countries and app categories," Kumar wrote on The Conversation.

"App stores allow developers to target their apps to users based on a wide array of factors, including their country and their device’s specific features."

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