Harvard, Northeastern’s privacy tools flag apps that leak personal data

“Our devices have been black boxes — this is something that has frustrated me for years,” said David Choffnes, a professor of computer science at Northeastern University who led one study into app privacy.

In a bid to make privacy realities more visible to smartphone owners who aren’t techheads or security experts, Choffnes led development of a tool called ReCon that serves as an in-phone watchdog for sensitive information. After it is installed, it can recognize when sensitive information such as e-mails or passwords are being transmitted and flag the leaky apps to the owner.

“We saw some pretty impressive privacy violations that we were unhappy with and we figured this is something the public we should be aware of,” Choffnes said.

The Boston Globe