IT&Software

Beware! Sarahah has been uploading your contact book to its server

Beware! Sarahah has been uploading your contact book to its server

For example, he tested the app on Friday night and when he booted it up again on Sunday morning, it uploaded all his contacts once again.

This was, at one time, the third most-downloaded free app for the iPhone and iPad. "The privacy policy specifically states that if it plans to use your data, it'll ask for your consent", he told the Intercept. While the developers are claiming that this feature was to be removed before making the application live, there is no information as to what will happen to all the contacts that are already with the app developers. Julian was using Samsung Galaxy S5 with Android 5.1.1. That's a pretty clear case of an app that can, and probably does, compromise your Contacts and the anonymity of everyone you know.

It's very much possible the app isn't doing anything with the data it collects but the information does needlessly get sent to the company's servers when it really have to be. He discovered this fact when he downloaded the Sarahah app on this mobile. Over 54 per cent of Android users are using older versions which do not have these permissions, and users need to be savvy enough to know where to find app permissions are (Settings Apps Gear button App Permissions).

Newer Android operating systems, starting with Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") do allow for more granular permissions for apps, allowing users to modify controls so that apps do not gain access to contacts or other information. After Intercept pointed out the behaviour, he stated "the data request will be removed on next update" and that Sarahah's servers now don't host contacts.

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Other apps that send users' contacts to external servers are more forthright in their privacy policies. Guess what, this app is not as harmless as it appears to be. The prompt to add contacts states "Find your friends". On both iOS and Android, there is no mention of data being uploaded to a server. Created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, the app is aimed to help people identify their strengths and weaknesses. Another was Secret, now defunct, which was supposed to traffic in anonymized messages from friends and friends of friends. The typical option to search for your contacts is also missing.

A silver lining for Sarahah users concerned about privacy is that they don't need to download the service's app.

Sarahah has been quite a sensation, the anonymous app has been in the limelight since past couple of weeks. The site does not ask for permissions to access contacts from any of your address books.


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