iPhone apps can collect personal information via push notifications!

iPhone apps can collect personal information via push notifications!

Apps running on iPhones have been found to gather personal data through push notifications, and this revelation comes from the findings of security researcher Tommy Misk. Notably, popular services like TikTok, Twitter, and Bing have been implicated in this practice, adding a layer of concern for user privacy. Here's everything you need to know to protect your data.

How do iPhone apps collect your personal data via push notifications?

Tommy Misk's investigation has shed light on the exploitation of advanced features in the notification center, a functionality introduced in iOS 10 back in 2016. Initially intended to empower developers by allowing them to enhance notifications with additional content, it appears that some apps, including TikTok, Twitter, and Bing, have repurposed these features for potentially intrusive activities. This involves circumventing the operating system's restrictions on background activity, raising questions about the ethical use of user data.

© william hook – unsplash.com

The data collected through this method is not trivial; it includes unique device signals that can be utilized to fingerprint and track users across various apps. Such practices pose a potential threat to user privacy, and the revelation has sparked concerns about the extent to which popular services are willing to gather information on their users.

It's worth noting that Apple has long maintained strict controls over background app activities to safeguard user privacy and ensure optimal device performance. In response to growing concerns, Apple is set to further tighten its grip by requiring developers to explicitly state why their projects need API access

As the tech giant takes steps to enhance transparency and accountability among developers, it's anticipated that Apple will also address the identified vulnerability in push notification settings. This proactive approach aligns with Apple's commitment to user privacy and may involve implementing measures to prevent the misuse of advanced notification center features by apps in the future. Users can expect increased security measures in upcoming updates to protect their personal information and maintain a secure digital environment on their iPhones.

How to limit the amount of personal data you share on iPhone

  • To switch off personalized ads in apps, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Apple Advertising and toggle off the Personalized Ads option.
  • Within Settings and each app (especially Apple News and Stocks) you can reset identifiers. 
  • Next, go to Privacy & Security > Analytics & Improvements and toggle off the following options: Share iPhone Analytics, Share iCloud Analytics, Improve Safety, Improve Siri & Dictation. 
  • Review the permissions for your other apps in the Privacy & Security section, check which apps can see your location, and stop third-party apps from tracking your activity.