PrivacyBreacher for Android reveals data that apps have access to without extra permission requests

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 1, 2020
Updated • Jun 1, 2020
Apps, Google Android

PrivacyBreacher is an open source Android application that has been created to showcase some privacy issues on Android devices. It has been created to demonstrate privacy issues on Android, and is based on the Privacy Issues in Android article that you can access here.

The application is compatible with Android 9 and later devices, and requires no extra permissions. In fact, it has been designed to point out data that applications can access without any extra permission requests.

You may start the application at any time after installation. It uses a basic interface with just three buttons. The first, Physical Activity Monitor, demonstrates how any application may use phone sensors to monitor the angle of the phone, the direction of the phone, the speed of movement, and more using sensors such as Gyroscope, Accelerometer, or  Magnetometer.

privacybreacher android privacy issues

The developer notes that this may give the app a "3D visualization of your hand & body movements".

Phone Activity Monitor on the other hand monitors certain events on the device, e.g. when a charger was plugged in, when the screen was turned off, when the phone was disconnected from a charger, or when the phone was connected to a laptop or PC using USB.

Phone Information finally displays information that any application can look up when it is installed on a device. This includes:

  1. List of all installed applications.
  2. Mobile data and Wi-Fi data used since last boot.
  3. Device uptime.
  4. Device brand, name, manufacturer, manufacturing time and date.

Closing Words

All Android devices gain access to a core set of permissions automatically; these permissions are not mentioned explicitly and don't need to be requested. PrivacyBreacher demonstrates that applications may access information about a user's device without requesting any extra permissions.

While many of these may sound harmless, they could be used for fingerprinting or other tracking purposes.

It would be interesting to know if some applications make use of these for tracking or advertising purposes.

In the end, it is still important to know what applications may look up on a device without any extra permission requests.

Now You: What is your take on this?

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  1. kondrat said on June 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

    The topic of data security is more important today than ever before.

    Have you ever even really thought about what app has access to your hardware at what times?

    Many apps have access to you network, camera, microphone, or GPS data — without you ever being aware of it.

    KVD AntiSpy – anti spyware app offers you the unique possibility of seeing in real time which app has access to your hardware, ans when.

  2. ULBoom said on June 2, 2020 at 4:01 am

    Not surprising, it should be clear what apps are doing for those who care. Mostly, users don’t much care as long as they can poke, yell and swipe for dopamine rushes.

    Pinephone is getting closer although the current incarnation is still intended for techies to help Pine finish the phone by sending them lots of data. Wifi kinda works now. Who knows where it will end up.

    This app mess aside, phones are regulated differently than computers will never be truly private. Buy a crate of burners, that’s close.


  3. seeprime said on June 2, 2020 at 12:04 am

    Thanks Martin. I downloaded it from the Play Store, by Nandan. It provides some interesting and some very useful information.

  4. c1912 said on June 1, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Rooted ROM without GAPPS and with installed xPrivacyLUA and AFWall makes PrivacyBreachers hacks almost useless. Only exception is the activity monitor.

  5. Skrell said on June 1, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    Anyone know of an app like this that can run on older Android versions?

    1. Benjamin said on June 2, 2020 at 6:19 am

      …but others are not happy in this regard…. after all, it is private for profit interests only and they do not mind to get them at any cost to others.
      Besides all this, there is not the tiniest bit of rights for the people in all this. What remains today is, take it or leave it, instead of regulating some sense into everything.

      But then what kind of political system do we have here that leaves us no choices?

  6. DevCon said on June 1, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    You have to keep in mind that Android and iOS are doing so much better in terms of privacy than Windows or even your average Linux distribution. Here every app can read/see pretty much anything you are doing.

    Android 10 in particular is doing pretty well with a lot of improvements in the permission system and limiting access to storage directories apps shouldn’t really access anyway.

    I think this app actually shows how far mobile systems have come. If you were to run the same app on a desktop system, it would show a ton of additional information and it could list pretty much every file on your pc. Still Apple and Google should keep it up and tighten access to stuff like the app list even more. In the meantime I’m pretty happy with Android 10 in this regard.

  7. Marcus said on June 1, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    It’s a shame this is the state of software corporations these days, just helping themselves to our most private data, without blushing, getting worse every year.

  8. Gerard said on June 1, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Android = Google = Data harvester. Enough said.
    Don’t use it!

    1. ha said on June 3, 2020 at 9:32 am

      Android = Google = Data harvester = SKYNET = The Brain of Terminators

      1. Janne Granström said on June 5, 2020 at 2:20 pm

        Android = Google = Data harvester = SKYNET = The Brain of Terminators = Terminators come and try sell you shit from wish again and AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!

    2. thebrowser said on June 1, 2020 at 6:02 pm

      What do you recommend and/or use?

      Ubuntu Touch is not there yet but has made some progress lately and may be market ready in a couple of years.

      There are Android-based alternatives like Lineage and Graphene, Lineage being more focused for developers and experimenting new and latest features and Graphene made for security and privacy. Lately /e/ has also caught my attention, based on Lineage but dedicated to provide a Google-free ecosystem, seems promising.

      1. GoodMeasure said on June 2, 2020 at 12:46 am

        I have been curious about this, too. Any opinions about “LineageOS for microG”? Its Lineage but with F-Droid and microG.

    3. Jimmy said on June 1, 2020 at 5:04 pm

      If it wasn’t for fanboys, we probably wouldn’t be in such a mess.

    4. Yuliya said on June 1, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      No other choices. iOS is even worse. At least Android devices can execute unsigned code, so you can install something like Lineage.

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