Warning! Your flashlight app could be spying on you

© NextPit

A lot of Android phone users have taken the step of installing a flashlight app to transform their camera flash into a useful night time tool. But in addition to providing illumination in the dark, these apps could also be helping themselves to private data. A report by SnoopWall found that ten of the most popular flashlight apps – including the likes of Super-Bright LED Flashlight and Brightest Flashlight Free – have permission to do everything from tracking your location to deleting apps and files.

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Do you know what your flashlight app is doing in the background? / © ANDROIDPIT

SnoopWall's privacy report looks at the top ten Android flashlight apps and shows that they all have permissions that go far beyond what is needed to provide light. While some permissions are fairly innocuous – such as controlling vibration and modifying the status bar – others give far greater cause for concern. For example, out of the top ten flashlight apps, three were able to determine a user's location, and four were able to write of delete the contents of USB storage. All were able to take photos and videos.

flashlight permissions
Some of the permissions associated with simple flashlight apps are a little surpirsing. / © ANDROIDPIT

With millions of Android users installing such apps, it's fair to say that most will be unaware of what a seemingly innocent flashlight app could be capable of. SnoopWall has developed its own flashlight tool in the form of Privacy Flashlight which weighs in at a mere 72Kb. The app is free from the bloat that SnoopWall says other flashlight tools use to collect user data to feed to advertisers.

So what can you do apart from using Privacy Flashlight? SnoopWall has a number of recommendations including disabling GPS when you are not using it, disabling Bluetooth, and even going as far as taping over the microphone and camera to protect privacy. SnoopWall has also developed the suitably-named Privacy App which tests to see if any apps you have installed have the potential to spy on you.

Do you check app permissions before you go through with an install, or do you just forge ahead regardless?

Source: SnoopWall

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  • ANna Mar 26, 2020 Link to comment

    But isn’t that normal that it had to access to the camera, since it was a torch app?

  • Slava Verna Jun 16, 2016 Link to comment

    I think that cheating is so wrong.
    There are many ways to catch a cheater but I believe that the most effective is an app on his phone.
    If you google for such apps, you'll find much info. I tried spytomobile service, but you can use any other app. The one thing which is important that these apps work great.

  • Dean McCabe Oct 7, 2014 Link to comment

    Has anyone found or checked to see if they are missing anything from their Androids due in part to these Flashlight Apps or is this just a shout in the dark?

  • Junaid Q. Oct 7, 2014 Link to comment

    Thanks for information
    that's y I like android pit

  • CJ Brown Oct 7, 2014 Link to comment

    I often test several apps before relying on one
    When it came to a flashlight app? I chose a free app with minimal adverts and few permissions required

    Interestng to note the flashlight app recommended, is also a target in reviews as not being advert free / being a spam generator

  •   7
    Deactivated Account Oct 6, 2014 Link to comment

    I always check permissions prior to installing. But it's a much bigger issue, and goes well beyond flashlight apps. Too many apps have permissions not required for the function they provide. For example, my phone has the vast majority of Google apps disabled. They have the longest list of permissions I've seen, which makes me feel suspicious & uncomfortable that they are a potential threat to my privacy. Google are world famous for this unfortunately. I wish the opposite were true.

  • Mark G. Oct 6, 2014 Link to comment

    This is a issue that needs to be dealt with. Why should a basic app need such permissions? It also shines a light on the sheep mentality of people who blindly download such apps without questioning.

  • Byron Garay Oct 6, 2014 Link to comment

    I have seen people downloading these Flashlight apps in Samsung phones, when their phones already have a very handy flashlight widget pre-installed...

    redDeactivated Account

    • Manuel Oct 6, 2014 Link to comment

      yes, I have heard of that but it's true that it's low light compared to the other apps( you can see the difference).
      And I have created my own flashlight app so I have nothing to worry about only myself :)

  • Moni Mihailov Oct 6, 2014 Link to comment

    I just forge ahead and haven't had a single issue on my phone :)

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