Utility apps are a dime a dozen in Google Play Store, but if you're not careful, you might install one that has some unwanted payload inside. The report points to software by a company called Alphonso Software that identifies audio signals in TV commercials and television shows. In Google Play Store and Apple's App Store there is a combined 250 apps that are using this Alphonso software.
But even when users chose to disable the ad-serving feature, LightsOut would override the decision and continue to display ads out of context to what users might be doing or viewing on their mobile device.
2017 was a good year for iOS app developers, too. Apart from advertisers, it has also collaborated with film makers through using the microphone in film theaters.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, released a statement in conjunction with the press release, exclaiming how "we are thrilled with the reaction to the new App Store and to see so many customers discovering and enjoying new apps and games".
Alphonso, in the meantime, maintains a veneer of virtuousness, asserting that their technology doesn't record people's conversations, and that the minutiae of their policy is clearly laid down in the app's description and privacy detailing. However, the researchers said that the app abuses privacy since "the collection and transmission of personal data is unrelated to the functionality of the app".More news: Mega Millions jackpot up to $450M as drawing nears
The audio signatures are compared to "commercial content" that plays on your TV - here used as an umbrella term encompassing games consoles, media players, streaming programs and so on.
"The aggressive ads show up during many different scenarios - for example, after the app sends notices to unlock the device screen or if the user is told to connect to a charger", Trend Micro said. It had also emerged recently that mobile manufacturer OnePlus was providing information about its users to the Chinese government. However, Android apps pause when you click or tap out of their windows.
You'll want to make sure you know which apps are using your microphone. The odd part about all of this is that this information is not supposed to be collected if you are under age 13, but there is no real way to know the age of the person using the device being targeted.
Chordia declined to disclose the number of people it is collecting data from, and also the names of the roughly 1000 games and the messaging and social apps with the Alphonso software.