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Researchers find out apps are recording screenshots and sending them to third parties

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 03:20:30-04

There's now evidence of what you may have suspected all along; that your smartphone is spying on you, but not the way you think. 

The internet has suspected for some time that our smartphones are always listening.

"I can talk about something and a few minutes later I'll scroll through Instagram and there is the ad I was just talking about," said Griffin Leavy. 

Researchers from Northeastern University learned your apps are spying on you, but not exactly listening to your conversations. 

"Now we're finding out they're taking pictures of your screen and video of your screen and potentially sending that back to some unknown place," said Internet Security expert Alan Crowetz,

Crowetz said in many cases smartphone users are allowing the apps the access. 

"Whenever you fly through those standard disclaimers and those permission screens, may I have access to your contacts? May I have access to your gallery? Well along those lines, you’re generally giving them access to your phone," said Crowetz. 

"I didn’t realize that was to invade our privacy and almost spy on what we’re doing," said Aria Nirandone. 

"That’s invasion of privacy absolutely!" said Breonne Hays. 

The study found that out of 9,000 Androids apps that requested permission from the phone to use the camera and microphone, only 12 actually sent screenshots to app developers or a third party, which is good news. But, this means the apps still have access to what you're doing on your screen and Crowetz said iPhone apps are also using the same recording programs. 

"Stick with the big apps, the things that are tested cause by the time there are hundreds of thousands or millions of users they are getting enough attention that security experts are vetting them," he said. 

You can also check what permissions you are granting certain apps on your phone by going to your privacy settings and checking which apps have access to your camera and microphone. It wouldn't hurt to turn those off when the app is not in use.