Mobile app developers need to protect their users from spies

Mobile app developers and spies

Edward Parsons, senior manager, Information Protection & Business Resilience at KPMG UK comments on security issues for smartphone users.

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Edward Parsons, senior manager, Information Protection & Business Resilience at KPMG UK comments on news that US and British spy agencies are alleged to routinely try to access personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications. He says: 

“Smartphone applications offer a vast range of benefits to users and provide a platform for innovative service delivery. In the rush to market, security can come second, offering the opportunity for both nations and organised crime groups to collect sensitive information on smartphone users and their activities, as well as providing avenues to exploit vulnerabilities in app software and the smartphones which run it. A poorly configured smartphone may be the best espionage tool ever created with camera, microphone, GPS and Internet connection.

“Smartphone users need to exercise care in downloading and installing apps, including limiting the access they grant (e.g. does it really need access to your email or location?). Users can protect themselves by carefully considering the terms and conditions when purchasing apps, though this is easier said than done, the reality is that they are often complex and opaque, and frequently ignored as the latest and greatest app is installed in haste.

“Developers need to shoulder their share of responsibility by considering security (and privacy) issues early in development, as well as making terms and conditions user friendly. App stores also have a responsibility in scrutinising the security of applications being submitted for approval; including playing their part in trying to stem the growth in malicious mobile phone apps we have seen over the last 2 years.

“Good security is vital to global commerce and personal privacy, and as a security community we need to do more to offer users those assurances rather than repeating the "security as an afterthought" mindset we have seen so often in the past.”

- ENDS -


Media enquiries:

Nahidur Rahman, KPMG Press Office

T: 020 7694 8812

M: 0788191 6975


Mike Petrook, KPMG Press Office

T: 020 7311 5271

M: 07917 384 576


KPMG Press Office: 020 7694 8773


About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.   

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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