The Privacy App is said to be able to detect zero-day vulnerabilities

Anti-spying app heralds end of antivirus era

An Android app that actively scans other apps to determine how risky they are has been launched, promising a new level of user safety.

Developed by Las Vegas based, SnoopWall, who calls itself ‘the world’s first counterveillance software company,’ the app promises to address shortcomings of conventional antivirus software, which frequently fails to detect emerging cyber threats.

According to estimates only 45 per cent of cyber-attacks are halted by conventional antivirus programmes with the open-source Android software, by Google, presenting an enormous pool of vulnerabilities for various malevolent agents to exploit.

The Privacy App, based on SnoopWall’s patent-pending counterveillance technology, analyses apps to determine to which extent they ask for permissions that are not necessary for them opening ways for lurking hackers to exploit.

It also determines which ports are being used to spy on the users and alert the user that an app is trying to channel out some private information.

SnoopWall says some apps can run in the background quietly, waiting for the user to enter a password or other type of sensitive information. Some apps, the company warns, can take pictures without turning on the webcam light.

The creators say that, unlike conventional antivirus software, the Privacy App is able to detect not only the known but also the yet undescribed, or zero-day, vulnerabilities.

During a 14-month process of development and testing, over 90,000 apps in the Android Play store were scanned using the app, with about 20 per cent indicated as requesting more permissions than they need.

Privacy App provides a privacy risk score for app categories with the most critical apps listed at the top - including banking and financial transaction apps which have the highest need for security/privacy and typically have poor privacy risk scores.

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