That is a questions that security vendor, Bitdefender, posed with the recent release of its Clueful app on the iTunes App Store.
While last year’s refresh to Bitdefender Total Security 2012 was accompanied with the announcement of the Mobile Security and Antivirus app for the Android platform, Bitdefender Total Security 2013 comes with the unveiling of the Clueful app for iOS.
According to Bitdefender North America and Asia Pacific global PR coordinator, Andrei Taflan, the decision to create the app followed on from the vendor’s experience with creating the Android app last year.
“We wanted to provide users with all the necessary tools to see what the other apps on your phone are doing in the background,” he said. Taflan added that the more intricate nature of the Android platform enabled both Bitdefender and Android end users to easily see what apps are doing when it comes to sending data, connecting to your social networks or sourcing geographical data.
“However, with Apple’s iOS platform it was not quite as easy,” he said.
As a result, the security vendor saw an opportunity to create an app that allows users to check the apps that they have on their iOS device and see what goes on in the background.
“Clueful can manually analyse app after app so that the user can see what exactly is going on being the user interface,” Taflan said.
Despite the introduction of Clueful, Taflan will not go as far as saying that Bitdefender has identified malicious apps on the Apple iTunes App Store, as he feels that the closed nature of the online store makes it “difficult” to upload theses types of apps.
Instead, he will admit that there can be apps that require “much more than is necessary” from a user to do what the app promises to do.
“For example, a weather app that is geo-locating you is fine, as your weather report is dependant on where you are,” he said.
“But if the app is sending the location data to an external server, that could pose some interesting questions.”
In case users are wondering why apps may have these additional services running behind it, Taflan says that it may be due to someone collecting data and potentially displaying “aggressive” advertising.
As such, Taflan does not want to suggest that people will be seeing malicious apps in the future, but sees “very targeted” advertising becoming more prevalent.
“It might reach the point where a user might be passing by a storefront and they will get automatically spammed with advertising,” he said.
By using an app such as Clueful, Taflan hopes that users will be able to use its function to look under the hood of every app and see what is really going on, and then make a decision of whether is it safe or not.
“With people downloading a lot of free apps and games, this app is aimed at benefiting them,” he said.