Security News

Permission to punch the presidential candidates

Stefanie Smith, Nov 30, 2016 2:57:50 PM

Whomever your candidate of choice, check your app permissions to see if they are really justified and worth the fun you might enjoy from the app.

The 2016 U.S. presidential primaries are well under way and the candidates are a hot topic in the media, social media and in real life discussions. With all the buzz, I was curious to see how Android app developers are taking advantage of the candidate’s popularity and what permissions the apps request.  So with this mission in mind, I started downloading and testing these apps.

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Trump Apps – Permission Heavy

When I searched for “Trump” in Google’s Play Store, I wasn’t really too surprised to see a lot of silly apps. Mr. Trump has a certain reputation, and it seems like app developers are taking advantage of that.

Here are the top apps that appear when you search for “Trump” in the Play Store:

Top_Trump_apps_Play_Store.png

Punch The Trump

Punch The Trump seems to be the most popular Trump app on the Play Store, with between 500,000 – one million downloads. The app is also the most permission hungry app of the top Trump apps I looked at.

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The first two permissions the app requests access to are in-app purchases. This permission is justified as you can make in-app purchases within the app and device and app history, which some ad SDKs use to target app users with ads. The rest of the permissions are, in my opinion, not necessary for an app, where the user just “punches” an animated Trump in the face until it gets bloody. For example, why does the app developer need to know my location or need access to my photos, media and files?

In addition to the app permissions, the app also requests you agree to a license agreement with the AppJolt network.

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Trump Dump, Trump Soundboard, Trump on the Run and Trump Wall 

The rest of the top Trump apps are not as permission hungry as Punch the Trump, but some do still request permission to access content that is not necessarily needed for the apps to function properly. Here is a chart showing the permissions requested by each app:

App

In-app purchases

Device and App history

Identity

Location

Photos

/Media

/Files

Wi-Fi connection

Device

and call info

Camera

Trump Dump

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Trump Sound

-board for President

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Trump On the Run

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Trump Wall

No special permissions requested

 

Clinton Apps – Permission Friendly

When I searched for “Clinton” in the Play Store, I discovered a mix of apps supporting Hillary and apps mocking her, but the positive thing about all of these apps is that they either don’t request any special permissions or request appropriate permissions.

Hillaroids, Flappy Hillary: Elections 2016, Hillary O-Matic and Selfie with Hillary

The Clinton apps I tested were Hillaroids, Flappy Hillary: Elections 2016, Hillary O-Matic, Selfie with Hillary. None of the apps requested any special permissions, with the exception of the Selfie with Hillary app, but you need to grant it access to your camera and media files if you want to use the app. Hillary O-Matic and Hillaroids are not pro-Hillary apps. In Hillaroids you shoot floating Hillary heads in space and in Hillary O-Matic you can play Hillary soundbites, but these are accompanied by pretty unflattering pictures of Hillary’s face.

App

In-app purchases

Device and App history

Identity

Location

Photos

/Media

/Files

Wi-Fi connection

Device and call information

Camera

Selfie with Hillary

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

 No

Hillaroids

No special permissions requested

Flappy Hillary

Hillary O-Matic

 Hillaroids.png

 Hillary_O-Matic.png

Always check permissions before you download apps

So whomever your candidate of choice, check your app permissions to see if they are really justified and worth the fun you might enjoy from the app. Avast Mobile Security can help you with this task.

Install Avast Mobile Security