Oct 26, 2017

Developer Warns That iOS Camera Permissions Allow Apps To Secretly Capture Users

According to Motherboard, developer Felix Krause this week has detailed a proof-of-concept project, that was focused on the iPhone's cameras. Krause warned that any time you grant an app permission to access your iPhone's front and back cameras, the app can secretly take pictures and videos of you as long as it's running in the foreground.

Krause's camera privacy project isn't about disclosing a new iOS bug, but more about warning users that this kind of privacy violation is possible within iOS. Many apps regularly request permission to the Camera in iOS, such as allowing users to post photos from their Camera Roll, take a picture within the app without leaving it, and more.

He went on explained that if these permissions granted to a malicious app, the iPhone's front and back cameras can be turned on when that app is running. From there it could record content, upload it online, and even use facial expression analysis to measure your emotional response to things like ads displayed in the feed, all without indicating that your iPhone is recording you or your surroundings.


The demo app called watch.user he wrote shows a social networking app asking permission to access your camera to allow you to upload a photo, and then taking photos and video without notice while you are simply scrolling through the feed. The developer explained that with a vision framework in iOS 11 a developer could even map someone's face to track their expressions.


He said that there're "only a few things you can do" to potentially prevent this from happening, include purchasing camera covers to place over your iPhone's lenses. Otherwise, you have to revoke camera access for all apps. Krause have reported the issue to Apple, and mentioned a few ways it could be potentially addressed.

Offer a way to grant temporary access to the camera (e.g. to take and share one picture with a friend on a messaging app) [or] show an icon in the status bar that the camera is active, and force the status bar to be visible whenever an app accesses the camera.

To double check which apps have access to your iPhone's cameras and photo library, navigate to the Settings - Privacy, and there you'll find Photos and Camera, Apps that you've granted access to each will be listed, and you can change settings with toggles or choosing to "Never" allow access.


Via MacRumors And 9to5Mac, Image Credit MacRumors And 9to5Mac

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