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These 30 Popular Camera Apps Are Stealing Your Private Data

Google Play Store AH 01 1
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Dozens of ‘beauty camera apps’ found in the Google Play Stores top rankings are stealing user data, according to a recent press release from CyberNews. Some of those may be more malicious than others too, with more than 16 of the 30 listed apps originating out of China or Hong Kong, the company says.

At least one of the apps goes so far as to access camera data without even using permissions to provide users a choice in the matter. Three of the developers examined actually appear to be the same group and are widely believed to have links to a previously spotted Trojan-type malware. That malware was used to display ads, download and install apps, add and remove files with root permissions, and to launch APKs downloaded from a secondary server.

Perhaps worse for some users, at least one app was used to dispense pornographic content. The app was additionally accused of redirected users to phishing sites and collecting their pictures. Yet another was discovered to install malware. Some of the apps in question worryingly had more than 300 million installations. That’s despite violating Google policies, conducting secret data collections, or being outright discovered to be malware.

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What exactly are these camera apps stealing?

Although the malware is a big problem in some top-ranking apps, such as those developed by Meitu, a far bigger problem may be in the permissions the apps are requesting. At least one of the apps requests a staggering 40 permissions in total. And those permissions found in the app include access to microphones, the use of GPS and tracking data, and seeing user phone statuses.

Breaking the figures down doesn’t paint a pretty picture either. Only one app requests access to users’ contact lists. Only 13 ask for permission to access high-accuracy GPS based locations while 10 more request access to “coarse location.”

GPS access is particularly concerning since it’s a big source of revenue for the app developers. With 10 million active monthly users, developers can make as much as $80,000 per month. But that’s also one area users have become increasingly concerned about breaches of their data.

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With that said, 23 of the apps want access to the microphone despite not requiring it to snap a still photo. 29 apps want access to the camera aside from the one that didn’t even ask and the same number want to be able to read data on the device. In the latter case, that’s despite only really requiring access to write data in order to save photos. That latter permission is one that all 30 apps request.

Here are all of the apps to watch for

There are a total of 30 applications listed by CyberNews in order of ranking, some of which have over 500 million installations as of December last year. Each of those camera apps is reportedly not only unnecessary but harmful in the context of stealing data and data privacy. They are, the company says, either developed by developers with spotty reputations, contain “outright malicious behavior,” or are using “unethical practices.”

Those can be found below and it may be a good idea to uninstall the apps for anybody who happens to be using them.

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App TitleDeveloperInstalls (as of Dec. 2019)
BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie CameraMeitu (China) Limited300,000,000
BeautyCamMeitu (China) Limited10,000,000
Beauty Camera – Selfie CameraInShot Inc10,000,000
Beauty Camera Plus – Sweet Camera ♥ Makeup
Photo
Fantastic Photo –
Beauty Makeup Pro
StudioPhotography
1,000,000
Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera & Photo EditorSweet Selfie Inc.500,000
Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & Photo EditorKX Camera Team10,000,000
YouCam Perfect – Best Selfie Camera & Photo
Editor
Perfect Corp.100,000,000
Sweet Snap – Beauty Selfie Camera & Face
Filter
Sweet Chat & Snap
Apps
100,000,000
Sweet Selfie Snap – Sweet Camera, Beauty Cam
Snap
Pro Too Movie Apps
Good Develop
500,000
Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera with Photo
Editor
Coocent1,000,000
Beauty Camera – Best Selfie Camera & Photo
Editor
KX Camera Team5,000,000
B612 – Beauty & Filter CameraSNOW, Inc.500,000,000
Face Makeup Camera & Beauty Photo Makeup
Editor
Alex Joe10,000,000
Sweet Selfie – Selfie Camera & Makeup Photo
Editor
Sweet Selfie Inc.100,000,000
Selfie camera – Beauty camera & Makeup
camera
PhotoArt Inc.1,000,000
YouCam Perfect – Best Photo Editor & Selfie
Camera
Perfect Corp.100,000,000
Beauty Camera Makeup Face Selfie, Photo
Editor
Virgilo Malley1,000,000
Selfie Camera – Beauty CameraBest App – Top Droid
Team
500,000
Z Beauty CameraGOMO5,000,000
HD Camera Selfie Beauty CameraiJoysoft5,000,000
Candy Camera – selfie, beauty camera, photo
editor
JP Brothers, Inc.100,000,000
Makeup Camera-Selfie Beauty Filter Photo EditorPhoto Editor Perfect
Corp.
1,000,000
Beauty Selfie Plus – Sweet Camera Wonder HD
Camera
Sai2D100,000
Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & AR StickersBestie – Camera360 Beauty CamPinGuo Inc.10,000,000
Photo Editor – Beauty CameraKX Camera Team100,000
Beauty Makeup, Selfie Camera Effects, Photo
Editor
Lyrebird Studio5,000,000
Selfie cam – bestie makeup beauty camera &
filters
Hd wallpapers and
backgrounds studio
100,000