Thеse two apps could be secretly collecting your data
Sensor Tower is a popular analytics platform and reportedly, it has been harvesting user data from millions of people on Android and iOS. Its products have more than 35 million downloads. The company’s apps Adblock Focus and Luna VPN are the focus of the current investigation, both of which were downloadable via the official stores for Android and iOS. Other apps such as Free and Unlimited VPN and Mobile data, available only on Google Play, are also being looked into.
The aforementioned apps were not even listed as owned by Sensor Tower, the link was discovered by BuzzFeed News while investigating the backend code. In fact, they found the GitHub nicknames of developers working for Sensor Tower in the code of the apps in question. For the moment, Apple and Google are investigating the issue, and while Adblock Focus has been removed from Apple’s store, LunaVPN is still available for download on both platforms.
The concerning aspect is that, once installed, LunaVPN would request root certificate to be installed on iOS, thus granting access to all data and traffic on the phone, which could be a major security risk, according to Malwarebytes’ analyst Armando Orozco.
Nevertheless, Sensor Tower stated that it is collecting only anonymous usage and analytics data and that no personal identification information or sensitive data, such as passwords or usernames, is being gathered.
Randy Nelson, the company’s head of mobile insights, also stated that it has not disclosed the ownership of the apps for competitive reasons. “When you consider the relationship between these types of apps and an analytics company, it makes a lot of sense — especially considering our history as a startup,” Nelson said. He added that most of the apps included in the report were now inactive.
According to an Apple spokesperson, a dozen of Sensor Tower’s apps were removed from the App Store due to violations of policy. Apple is currently continuing to investigate Luna VPN.