Research shows that users can be uniquely identified from just four apps


A 2016 study from the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation found that in 95% of cases it takes as few as four of the apps users have installed on their smartphones to reidentify them within a dataset. Based on a study of 54,893 Android users  over seven months, the researchers found that just two apps were sufficient to reidentify users about 75% of the time. However, the list of apps an individual uses is more revealing than that: it can predict traits like religion, relationship status, the languages they speak, and whether they have children. The finding is of particular concern because social media apps have been to share app profiles with advertisers and because of the increased number of data breaches. Android apps do not require any special permission to access the full list of apps on any device; on Apple a platform can generate a list of installed apps by scanning frequently to make a list of what is running on the device.

Writer: Kari Paul
Publication: Motherboard

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