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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : July 10, 2012

Mobile security firm reveals security risks associated with mobile app ads

Consumers are lapping up free apps, and most are happy to tolerate the ads served within those apps, as a payoff for free use. Lookout Mobile Security has found that, for many ad-supported app users, they payoff could be more insidious.

by Helen Leggatt

Lookout_Logo_Vertical_372x372.pngLookout Mobile Security has found that some ad providers are accessing personal information such as phone number, email and name, without first notifying users of free apps.

Furthermore, many of these ad providers are using "aggressive" ad delivery techniques such as changing settings, such as bookmarks, or installing software without the users' knowledge.

While just 5% of the ad networks analyzed by Lookout employed such techniques, this still accounts for more than 80 million downloads.

While Lookout has not named the ad providers they flagged, they did say that, on Google Play, they found that personalization apps, such as wallpaper apps, had the highest rate (17%) of aggressive ad network integrations. This was followed by entertainment apps (8%) and games (7%).

"We are in a very early days of mobile advertising and models are very much derived from the web where practices have not been very respectful," Anne Bezancon, founder and president of Placecast, told Reuters.

"The mobile experience is much more intimate and personal - a phone is an extension of you, not a distant publishing screen. The equivalent is someone whispering in your ear."

Tags: ad network, ad providers, advertising, in-app advertising, malware, mobile advertising, mobile apps, mobile marketing

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