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Security Warnings Against Some Gambling Apps

Nov 5, 2012

Juniper Research Warns Mobile Gamblers
Juniper Research

Juniper Mobile Threat Center found some free free mobile gambling apps accessed unnecessary user data.

Mobile gambling apps are all the rage at the moment. But unfortunately, not all developers operate according to the industry requirements.

Juniper Networks’ Mobile Threat Centre warned smartphone users to be careful with some free gaming apps. Especially free mobile casino gambling and racing games can mean security risks for mobile users.

Android titles downloaded from the Google Play store represent the biggest problems allegedly, accessing device functions such as camera and address book for purposes unauthorized by, and unknown to the user.

After it analyzing over 1.7 million apps on the Google Play, Juniper claims that hundreds of thousands of Android applications could reach out to sensitive data or initiate unnecessary device functionality, store between March 2011 and September 2012.

According to the research: ‚ÄúSome apps can discreetly initiate outgoing calls, which can be used to eavesdrop on ambient conversations within hearing distance of the mobile device; some were allowed to send text messages and create a ‘covert channel to siphon sensitive information from the device’; some can use the device’s camera to potentially obtain photos and videos of the surrounding area.”

To be fair, there are some legitimate reasons to access these features. Mobile casino apps used the smartphone camera to insert a personal background picture, and some financial apps also advised users to call financial institutions.

Free card and casino games apps, which are basically fun versions of popular casino games without real-money mobile wagers, are particularly worrying. 94 percent of them accessed phone calls, 83 percent accessed the camera and 85 percent could even send an SMS.

Apps collect user info to serve relevant ads from third-party networks. However, just a very low percentage of ads came from the top five ad networks. Juniper reckons the apps collected the information for other purposes.

Experts say that an app should only use smartphone features functions absolutely necessary to their function, and they should always inform users of how their data and device are used.

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