Spam blockers. Helper apps security?

Has it ever happened to you that after placing an online order or a new bonus card, calls from unfamiliar banks or medical centers start with “great deals”? Exchange of contact databases is a fact with which many users have already resigned themselves, and they fight unwanted calls with the help of applications – blockers.

As usual, we look at everything with a healthy dose of skepticism and propose to take a closer look at how spam blocking applications work and what access they get in exchange for protection from annoying calls.

Let’s briefly describe how blockers work. The installed application monitors all incoming calls and allows you to mark certain calls as spam. In addition, such applications have access to a huge database of numbers already classified as spam and block them. As a result, the necessary calls should go through, but calls from scammers, robots, advertisers – not.

Thus, all your incoming calls are available to the application. But are they the only ones? We looked into the user agreements of some ad blockers.

Truecaller

Here’s a translation of a small portion of the Truecaller app’s privacy policy:

“From the moment you install and start using our Services, Truecaller will collect personal information directly from you and from all devices you use to interact with the Services.

This information may include the following: geolocation; IP address; Device ID or unique identifier; device type and manufacturer data; device and hardware settings; operations with mobile communication and SIM-card; applications installed on the device; Ad recipient ID; advertising data; operating system; web browser; IMSI; connection information; screen resolution; usage statistics; default communication applications; access to the device address book; device log and event information; logs, keywords and metadata of incoming and outgoing calls and messages; versions of the Services used and other information based on your interactions with our Services.

Such as how the Services are accessed (via another service, website or search engine); the pages you visit and the features you use on the Services; the services and websites you interact with using the Services; the content you are viewing, the content you have commented on or sent to us, and information about the advertisements you see and / or interact with; search queries; information about orders and other activities, as well as data that are logged from time to time by Truecaller servers. Truecaller may collect some of this information automatically using cookies, and you can find out more about our use of cookies in our Cookie Policy. “

Source: https://www.truecaller.com/privacy-policy

GetContact

The GetContact application has become quite popular. It, in addition to the function of detecting spam, allows you to find out under what name the user is registered with the subscribers of his phone book. Judging by the fact that many have shared screenshots of the application with funny contact names on social networks, the danger of this function is not entirely obvious.

And what, in fact, is the danger? In order to find out how you are recorded in the phone book from friends and colleagues, you will have to provide access to your phone book. This should confuse any vigilant user. Most likely, GetContact stores all of the user’s contact lists on its server. Let’s see what the security policy says:

“When you use our Services, we, with your permission, may automatically collect data about you and / or your device that can be considered personal data in accordance with data protection laws. This is information like this:

Analytics of your use of our Services

  • Your IP address and mobile device identifiers (for example, device ID, advertising ID, MAC address, IMEI);
  • Device information such as its name and operating system, browser type and language;
  • Data we collect using cookies and similar technologies;
  • Geographic location based on your IP address;
  • Accurate geolocation data (GPS, with your consent);
  • Data about how you use our Services (for example, metrics for application usage and interaction with them). “
    Source: https://www.getcontact.com/en/privacy

The user agreement states that no data will be collected without the user’s consent, but admit it, when was the last time you read the agreement? And it happens that without a tick “I agree”, it is impossible to use the application at all.

Built-in qualifiers

There are also built-in spam detectors. For example, a caller ID is included in the Google Phone app (Google services are installed by default on many Android devices).

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