- Domestic travel is expected to increase this summer, with spending predicted to reach more than $1.1 trillion for the year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by about 11%
- Popular travel apps, including apps from Disneyland, Uber, and Southwest Airlines, may increase users security and privacy risks
- According to mobile security and privacy leader Kryptowire, everyday app functionality may compromise privacy best practices
With summer travel nearing, Kryptowire, a mobile and privacy solutions company, is revealing findings of the top five riskiest travel applications. The apps, frequently used by consumers, include Disneyland, Uber, Southwest Airlines, Waze and SpotHero. Kryptowire’s threat research team ran a risk assessment through its Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST) on commonly used applications associated with travel and ranked the threat scores of the highly-downloaded apps on iOS devices.
With domestic travel spending expected to reach more than $1.1 trillion for the year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by about 11%, consumers must be diligent about safeguarding their mobile devices from applications that could leak or sell personal data. Using its MAST technology, Kryptowire assigned “threat scores” to applications rating their level of security and privacy readiness, with higher scores indicating lower readiness:
Top 5 Riskiest Travel Applications
- Disneyland – Threat Score: 85
- Uber – Request a Ride – Threat Score: 83.6
- Waze – Threat Score: 82.9
- Southwest Airlines – Threat Score: 82.2
- SpotHero – Threat Score: 80.1
“While it’s exciting that more people will resume leisure and business travel this summer, we can’t be naive to the risks associated with modern travel, including mobile app usage,” said Alex Lisle, Chief Technology Officer of Kryptowire. “In our new ‘hybrid work’ environment, it’s not just personal devices coming along for the ride. The lines continue to blur between personal bring your own device (BYOD) and professional devices, and its crucial employers and employees are aware of the potential risks.”
Of the top at-risk applications, Disneyland poses the largest privacy concern, as it is able to use multiple device-level resources, including a device’s microphone, camera roll, and contacts without checking for trusted environments. Additionally, while it stores data within the keychain, the limits on when that data can be accessed is not particularly restrictive, and we have also noticed that the device’s unique identifier has been sent across the network. The Device Identifier has traditionally been used to track a device across multiple apps and web traffic, contributing to its high threat score.
Generally, apps collect data and have access to personal information: however, these applications threaten user privacy without being open and consistently scan user activity in the background of devices. Users should consider scanning and restricting access to the apps.
Entry Points to Data & Personal Information
The largest risks to consumers include breaches to privacy and personal data given the following access points to your devices:
- Access to the Camera
- Access to the Camera Roll
- Access to your Contact List
- Access to the Microphone
- Access to your location at all times
- Access to BlueTooth
- Sharing collected data with third parties
Privacy & Security At Risk When the Apps Collect and Distribute Data
The results of this risk assessment raised several important concerns. Is the amount of data these popular applications collect from the devices really necessary? How well do these companies protect data in the long term? More travel also increases the use of ride share apps like Uber and Lyft, which also collect a significant amount of data. As summer travel picks up, users should better understand how their device is handling their data, and take precautionary steps to limit unnecessary exposure.
Tips to Secure Mobile Devices
- Establish accountability – whether you’re traveling for work or personal reasons, there are risks. Employers, parents, and other security stewards must ensure devices are secure and protected. End users must also take ownership of their online activity and best practices.
- Secure devices – Organizations and individual users should prioritize device security through frequent security and privacy readiness screening, using solutions like Kryptowire MAST.
- Update apps – routinely update your apps to ensure security and privacy concerns are limited.
Methodology: Kryptowire’s Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST) solution tested the security and privacy of various mobile applications in the travel category. Kryptowire identified the top 5 riskiest apps on iOS devices, and the various avenues where the apps can collect and disclose personal information. The analysis reveals the following lend to increased threat scores; what data an app takes from the device, what data the app declares it takes from the device, how the app handles that data, how the app is coded, and areas where the app has been coded improperly. For more details on the risks end-users should be aware of specific to each of these five apps, please visit: www.kryptowire.com/blog/popular-travel-ios-apps-request-excessive-user-data-permissions/