The Dark Side Android – Applications

With the development of smartphones, programs have literally grown smarter. However, this trend is not always user-friendly, especially when it comes to 'shadow' applications.


A recent study of app behavior Android indicates a staggering amount of background internet traffic, which does not improve system performance in any way, but rather drains battery power. Researchers from MIT and Global InfoTek conducted a thorough analysis of the top apps from Google Play and found that most of the connections are not in any way related to interacting directly with the application.

The result of the research was the conclusion that 62.7% of connections made through popular Android – applications included in the top 20 applications on Google Play (excluding instant messengers) can be classified as implicit (having secret background activity, in no way which does not affect the operation of the program). Blocking connections to online resources within these applications will not be able to entail any visible or measurable changes in the behavior of the program.


В некоторых случаях такое имплицитное поведение связано с известными библиотеками A&A (Analytics and Advertising, аналитика и реклама), но к ним относятся лишь 43% случаев. The rest of the compounds are divided into different areas. The report says:

Twitter uses hidden connections to collect information about videos and other media attachments that users tweet. The GO Keyboard app uses a covert connection to send a set of identifiers to the server, as well as undecipherable information to Pandora and Spotify use social metrics Facebook to send app usage information. Another example, the Walmart app uses a specific library from Red Laser (a company that specializes in price comparison) to work with scanned barcodes. This library allows you to send information about the scanned code to the server. But, blocking outgoing information does not affect the operation of the scanner in any way.

Once the team was convinced that their detection and blocking mechanisms accurately detected background app activity without compromising performance, they immediately applied their search techniques to a study of the 500 most popular apps on Google Play. An extensive analysis showed that 46.2% of connections within applications are hidden. The table below contains the most frequent requests for various services by application.


The fact that Google APIs are at the top is not at all surprising, but Gameloft's position can be thought provoking. Despite the fact that out of 500 applications, only 17 products from Gameloft were tested, 87.4% of the connections in their applications are implicit.

Does this affect battery consumption?

Undoubtedly, yes, but the level of such influence will depend entirely on the specific application. Applications supporting Internet connectivity will already have one active connection, be it Wi-Fi or a mobile network, so the performance cost of 1-2 additional connections will be negligible. On the other hand, Gameloft has an average of 46 hidden connections per application. Even if each of them uses a very small percentage of 'horses' apparatus, then all together they will give an impressive load.

This state of affairs is not a revelation. It has long been known that Android – applications do not spare the battery of our smartphones at all; Many products based on the freemium business model can download hefty advertising materials in the background, hiding the connection speed and leaving the modem active for much longer than necessary.

Yet research like this explains why large companies suffer from massive security problems and hacking of user information. A developer who creates a product with a dozen hidden connections without any influence on the service itself is often not up to the security of private information. It is also obvious that developers need to earn money, and inclusion in advertising is not something wrong, but applications make hundreds of connections without the knowledge of the end user, and this will most likely affect battery consumption, the safety of private information or everything at once. .

Original material by Joel Hruska

Elir: This kind of news pops up in news feeds at regular intervals, most often they touch on certain products, as, for example, in stories with multiple location requests using the Swype keyboard. It is difficult to say that without exception all hidden connections are potentially dangerous, but we, end users, are unhappy with the fact that the 'covert activity' of applications at least negatively affects the operation of devices. If you dig deeper, then, most likely, there are many interesting things. I'm not an alarmist, but it's worth considering. Moreover, the people behind this study took the process quite seriously.


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