The pink hearts and cuddly bears so ubiquitous to Valentine’s Day may be hiding invasive permissions that violate users’ privacy, enlarge phone bills and even lead to identity theft, according to research by antivirus software firm, Bitdefender.
Seasonal apps such as Valentine’s Day 2014 Wallpaper have been found to push permissions enabling access to and distribution of users’ locations across the internet as well as the ability to read browsing history. The Valentine’s Day Frames application even requests permission to read users’ contact lists. These permissions are most likely sought by the ad-placing network, SDK.
While it might help someone send a message to a loved one, the Love Letters for Chat, Status app available on Google Play has permissions that can also add or modify calendar events, send emails without the owner’s knowledge, read calendar events and confidential information, directly call numbers and even change audio settings.
Loredana Botezatu, Communication Specialist at Bitdefender says scams for PCs have also jumped in number.
“The Bitdefender anti-spam lab noticed a 10 per cent increase in PC scams overnight, with the malicious campaign hype set to continue and intensify for the next week,” says Ms Botezatu.
“Fake diamond rings, flower arrangement deals, chocolate boxes and other online Valentine’s Day specials just might grab your online identity instead of your heart this year, turning your PC into a zombie in a botnet or steal credit card details.”
Below are some traps scammers either throw at users or hide on the Internet around Valentine’s Day:
- eHarmony invitations for those who want to find their significant other in a singles community
- ‘Burn fat fast’ miracle tricks to get women in shape in no time – nutritionists recommend a wonder plant that does the job in a matter of days
- Dazzling discounts for flowers, plush bears, chocolate animals, picture frames, wine and gift boxes
- Valentine’s Day wallpaper on users’ Android devices
- Luxury replicas– wrist watches and jewelry that no celebration of love could be complete without
“Users should not rush into buying gifts over the Internet without a thorough preliminary check. Some data should never be shared even with people you know, let alone with those you don’t know. It’s unlikely a stranger is working over the internet in your best interests,” says Ms Botezatu.