February 21, 2019

Apple warns app developers to remove or disclose screen recording code

10 February 2019, 09:55 | Cameron Gross

Some iPhone apps are recording what you do according to a report. Angela Lang CNET

Some iPhone apps are recording what you do according to a report.                  Angela Lang  CNET

End users of these popular iOS apps have no knowledge of their activities being recorded.

In a statement to Gizmodo about the report, a spokesperson for Glassbox said the tool is used to weed out potential bugs or errors and improve overall user experiences.

According to security research The App Analyst, whose work was earlier reported on by TechCrunch, Glassbox gives developers a "session replay" technology that allows them to see exactly how you used the app. One app developer was told by Apple to remove code that recorded app activities, citing the company's app store guidelines.

The session replay technology enables app developers to record users' every single tap, keyboard entry, button push, etc.

The report said none of the apps involved appeared to ask users for explicit permission to record screen activity or disclose their apps use such software. In addition, Glassbox has stated that its service is meant to help its clients improve the user experience on their apps and nothing more. Some of these apps properly mask that sensitive information before sending them off to remote servers. It allows companies to integrate their screen recording technology in their apps to reproduce how the user interacts with the apps.

The analyst said that the data was 'mostly obfuscated, 'meaning masked, but did see in some email addresses and postal codes.

While the software can prevent sensitive data like credit card information or passwords being recorded by blocking it out, the App Analyst found that this feature was not always successful, leading to personal information being displayed.'s policy does not mention recording users' screens, nor does Expedia's. But what is being uncovered, or at least brought to light in 2019, is that most users are entirely unaware that the developer might record every move they make inside an app.

One particular app belonging to Air Canada had suffered a major data breach, when it was discovered the airline carrier was not masking its consumer data properly whenever the Glassbox program sent details from mobile devices to its client's servers.

Expedia noted that its brands aren't using Glassbox on any of its "native applications for iOS or Android".

Abercrombie confirmed that it uses Glassbox but the company's privacy policy makes no mention of session replays, reports TechCrunch. The main issue with the usage of this software is that the travel companies and the hotels don't inform the users about the use of this technology. This includes user information entered in, and collected on, the Air Canada mobile app. None of these apps need user permission to record users' screens.

Neither Apple nor Glassbox immediately responded to a Fortune request for comment.

In addition, the company said it doesn't share information with third parties and that all the data it collects is "highly secured and encrypted". In addition, Glassbox said the data they capture is "highly secured, encrypted, and exclusively belongs to the customers" the company supports.

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