Beware! Sarahah Breaches Anonymity, Uploads Private Contact Information

Hit App Sarahah Quietly Uploads Your Address Book
Sarahah Wants Your Contact Details for a Non-Existing Feature
Author

29 August, 2017

Sarahah, the anonymous feedback app that recently went viral, has reportedly been silently collecting users' phone contacts data, without the knowledge of its users.

After the security flaw was uncovered, Sarahah creator, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq tweeted that the contact storing behaviour will be removed from the app in future updates and was put in place for a "find your friends feature". Also, even on giving the permission to access contact info, the app does show the users who in their contact list are using the app on iOS devices.

If the user has not logged into the app in a while, the app will share contact information again.

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Well, not sure about you, but collecting data for a feature which is not even available yet, can not be justified for most people. That's when he discovered that Sarahah was sending private user information to its own servers. When launched for the first time, it immediately harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in users' address book. The security researcher confirmed that the app is doing the same on both the Android and iOS devices. The app, one of the top three downloaded apps on iPhone, allows "honest feedback" and has become a major hit among younger users. On the other hand, in some cases on Android, the app requests access to contacts without providing any explanation for needing such access, while in other cases it makes no such request. Asking access to contact details without offering any feature associated with contacts simply raises a red flag.On a related note its very common for Android apps to sectreately team up and steal your data. The app interactions also involved privilege escalation which is a phase wherein sensitive information is prone to get leaked. He also tweeted that Sarahah now stores no contacts in its databases, which is impossible to verify. "The privacy policy specifically states that if it plans to use your data, it'll ask for your consent", he told the Intercept. The analyst informed that he found this feature when he got the on his Galaxy S5, which runs the Android Lollipop version.

If you are a Sarahah user, you can check the permissions on iOS from Settings Sarahah. However, it still brings up concerns about user privacy and how various mobile applications have been treating your data. The site doesn't ask for or require access to your contacts in the digital address books for you to use Sarahah. The typical option to search for your contacts is also missing.


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