Major Study Explores Data Security in Websites and Apps

Website services are increasingly being offered via mobile apps on smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices. The market for mobile apps is being pushed by increased adoption of smartphones, but the legacy website system remains relevant today. As a business, your primary concern is the safety and security of your data and your clients’ information when using these platforms. Researchers from Northeastern University conducted a study to highlight the security and safety of customer’s data when using mobile apps and websites, and the results are shocking.

The study selected 50 popular services sampled from various industries and offered for free online through both website and mobile apps (Android and iOS). The researchers investigated data leaks in these platforms to ascertain how a user’s information is secured, and how a user can be tracked and targeted using their information. This information is either sold, shared or stolen and is utilized in targeted advertising and data analytics.

The findings were too close to call, and this was shocking even to the researchers. According to David Choffnes, an assistant professor and member of the research team, the results were not as straightforward as pointing out which platform leaks more data than the other. Choffnes and some other members of the research team had expected that the mobile apps platforms would have more data leaks than the websites. Their expectation was based on the notion that apps have a more direct connection to the data (sic). From the study, 40 percent of their tested cases, showed that the website version of the services shared clients’ information with third parties more than the mobile apps.

The type of information shared varied in the two platforms.  The platform showed a preference for sharing the clients’ name and geo-location, while the mobile apps preferred to share the users’ devices’ unique identifier. Consequently, the researchers were shocked finding that the website platforms collected and harnessed more user data than the app version.

The study highlighted the fundamental concern for businesses about client data as they access their services online via the web or mobile app. Most users are innocently sharing their data, but this data could be exploited by third parties; known or foreign to your business.

When you approach a web or app services provider, it is important that you understand the extent which their partners will have the rights to access your clients’ and your company’s data. Without this knowledge, you might inadvertently give away your data to third parties.

Do not risk the security of your customers’ data; a very sensitive asset that drives your business. To learn more about securing your websites and mobile apps from data leaks, contact us today.

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