One of the major problems with a mobile application is that users have only one option to protect their privacy: install the app or not.
This causes a lot of users to ignore the permission warnings and sacrifice personal data. Most applications aggressively eavesdrop on their users, from monitoring their online habits through the device identifier to tracking their movements in the real world via location information.
Until now, mobile users could either access web pages via the web browser or use an app that prompts you with unwanted permissions that could end up revealing your personal data or creating other security concerns.
“The current state of the smartphone application ecosystem leaves privacy conscious consumers with a dilemma: either use the app while being aware of the privacy risks, or do not install the app,” the researchers pointed out, adding that many of them sometimes end up deciding that an application’s benefit outweighs its privacy risks.
Now, a research team from North California State University has come up with a brilliant solution to the problem. Dubbed NativeWrap, the app is currently available only for Android.
The new technology gives the users a third option – using the app and being in control of its permissions.
“When a user is visiting a Website in the phone’s browser that she would like to run as a native app, she ‘shares’ the URL with NativeWrap,” they explained. “NativeWrap then ‘wraps’ the URL into a native platform app while configuring best-practice security options. In effect, NativeWrap removes the third-party developer from the platform code, placing the user in control.”
It also protects from hackers. “By using a native platform app, the user can be trained to always use the phone’s application launcher to access security sensitive services,” the researchers note. “NativeWrap also pins the wrapped Website to a specific domain to ensure embedded elements (e.g., ads) do not redirect the user to a malicious site.”
Currently this technology is unavailable to the public, but it would be nice to be able to freely use apps without worrying that you’re being monitored.
“You can visit any Web site that you want to turn into an app and create your own custom version that can be installed to your phone,” said William Enck, assistant professor in the department of computer science at North Carolina State University. “Permissions are determined by you, the user.”
Via : Wired UK