[Android] Check which apps access sensitive data with CluefulMay 27, 2013 0 Email article | Print article
One of the most obscure things to happen when installing applications on your Android handset, is that certain applications gain permissions to query data and information. Of course, apps are also allowed to take advantage of particular features and functions on the device. Sure, every app includes a ‘permissions’ page on Google Play but sometimes the list gets pretty lengthy and it’s easy to miss what an app is allowed to do. Furthermore, sometimes applications can even query information and data on your device in a way that you didn’t know about. Clueful is a free application for Android, from the renowned security firm Bitdefender, that scans installed apps on your device and displays what kind of information they access.
What is it and what does it do
Clueful will scan the permissions on your device and tell you which apps are abusing the access they have to your personal information. To be quite honest, you’d be surprised to see what installed apps are doing. Some apps read and transmit data from your text messages, others read your contacts, and some even leak your unique device ID. Regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes, Clueful will help you determine potentially harmful apps in terms of privacy.
- Scans applications installed on your device and analyzes how they access sensitive data. Then it provides you with a unique privacy score
- Classifies installed apps into three categories:
- High risk
- Moderate risk
- Low risk
- Reports about what each app has access to
- You can share your privacy score as it fluctuates, and you can also share your dislike for how apps handle privacy on your device
- The information provided by this app is not unique or insightful; it basically just tells you what system access permissions apps have. You can easily access this information without this app by visiting the ‘permissions’ tab on Google Play or going to the Applications section of your phone.
- Serves as an advertisement for Bitdefender’s other mobile security software
- Uses 30MB of RAM while running, which is a bit high
When you first open up Clueful on your device it runs a scan of all the applications installed and then provides you with a unique privacy score (out of 100). The application will also tell you if your privacy score is high, fair or low. Obviously, a fair or low score means that you need to do some improving.
Apps are placed into one of three different categories depending on the various permissions they take advantage of. On my devices (tablet and smartphone), the application did not identify any high risk apps. It did, however identify 33 moderate risk apps and 31 low risk apps.
Unfortunately, while Clueful does tell you what data apps are accessing it does not tell you why they received a particular score. For example, just because an application has access to your text messages it doesn’t mean that’s a high risk app, especially if it’s an SMS app of some kind. What really matters is what the application is actually doing with that sensitive data. Clueful doesn’t tell you that though, it simply just highlights the fact that an app is collecting sensitive information.
That being said, it will tell you very clearly what apps are accessing what on your device. For example, I learned that the official XBMC remote app has access to your text messages, can send SMS, and can also read your contacts. I paid a quick visit to the Google Play page for the XBMC remote app, and found the same permission information, though. In other words, you can track down the information yourself, but Clueful does aggregate it all in one convenient location.
It seems like Clueful was designed to show off why you might need Bitdefender’s alternate mobile security apps- not that it’s not a useful app on its own. Right when you open the application settings on of the very first options you see is a button to enabled advanced security. Enabling advanced security will install Bitdefender’s other apps including antivirus, web security, anti-theft, and SMS control.
After the initial scan, and once all of the apps are classified, you can browse the lists individually. Moderate risk apps are designated by an orange circle, while high risk are labeled with a red circle and low risk a green one.
Selecting a particular app from the list opens a related profile that displays the permissions used in more detail. There’s a dislike button which shares to a social network of choice your distaste for a particular app and the data it collects. There’s also an uninstall button that will remove the application from your device.
That’s pretty much the gist of Clueful. For reference, Clueful uses about 30MB of RAM while running.
Conclusion and download link
Clueful aggregates all information regarding system access installed apps have and displays it in one convenient location. If you pay attention to the permissions that applications request when you install them, you probably won’t learn anything new through this app. However, if you never paid attention in the first place then this app might be quite useful to you. If you should get this app or not really depends on you. The app itself doesn’t offer any real significant insights as to what each app accesses; as I said, it is aggregates which apps access what and provides it to you in a useful list. If you need that type of thing, then by all means grab Clueful. If not, then stay away.
Version reviewed: 1.0.152
Requires: 2.2 and up
Download size: 1.6MB