Ad Network detectors hit the Google Play market
Mar 13, 2012 12:10 PM –
Ads in apps are something we’ve all encountered, and for the most part, we accept that we can either have ads in our apps and get them free, or we can pay for them, and not have ads at all. As my colleague Paul pointed out, these ads can come in a variety of forms, from the intrusive and downright annoying, to the thoughtful and well-placed.
The problem comes when companies try to do more than just flash an ad at you while you play a game or browse through content. What I would call Malware or Adware has increasingly become a problem, as another colleague, Antoino, wrote about earlier this year. Given that, as the Market continues to grow, and the open nature of that market, people will continue to try to find sneaky ways to steal information and/or push unwanted clicks, misdirections or even downloads on unsuspecting consumers. And that is where a new type of app has come in – the detector apps.
There are a few of them in the market now, such as Lookout Ad Network Detector and Ad Detector, which are designed specifically to help consumers identify the ‘bad apps‘ and stop not only unwanted ads popping up in places they shouldn’t (which would be anywhere outside of the app itself – the notification bar, icons on the home screen, etc.) but also detect apps that are actively leaking information back to their developers. In this case, Lookout focuses more on simply displaying the ad networks that the apps on your device will use, and giving you information about what can be displayed via those networks, as well as what could potentially be sent back to the developer. Ad Detector does essentially the same thing, but it’s focus is more on identifying potential security leaks and helping you plug them, rather than simply making you aware of what networks your apps use, and how those networks work. In addition to these two apps, there are other security apps that include this type of check as part of greater functionality.
So the question becomes, do you need an app to detect ads in other apps on your device? The short answer is, in my opinion, Yes. Honestly, most of the developers using the ad networks aren’t looking to be malicious. They aren’t out to steal your information or take over your device. At most, the majority of them might be guilty of bad placement but they are just trying to find a way to monetize their hard work without being forced to charge a price up front. But the problem is in the small number of developers who aren’t so honest, and who are more interested in getting your private information to sell or exploit than in creating good apps. And sadly, you often won’t know which are the bad apples until it’s too late.
Having a safeguard on your device to keep an eye on things is not a bad thing at all. Personally, I have an anti-virus app that runs every time I install something, and which alerts me if the new app has questionable networks. At least this way, I can be knowledgeable about what I’m installing, and if I choose to continue using the new app, at least I do so knowing the potential consequences.
Tags: Ad detector
, Android App Data Security
, Android Apps
, Android Malware
, Android Security
, Lookout Ad Network
Categorised in: Apps Blog, Featured, News