Do you still have a flashlight app on your Android phone? Seriously, check. Yes? Then get it of it -- you don't need it, and it's probably got abilities no flashlight app should have, such as making and receiving phone calls, reading your text messages, tracking your location or changing your phone's network settings.
Avast security researcher Luis Corrons (opens in new tab) had a look at 937 Android flashlight apps in the Google Play Store and found that, on average, each requested 25 separate system permissions. Two of them, Ultra Color Flashlight and Super Bright Flashlight, requested 77 permissions, and six others requested 70 permissions or more.
"Some of the permissions requested by the flashlight apps are really hard to explain, like the right to record audio, requested by 77 apps; read contact lists, requested by 180 apps; or even write contacts, which 21 flashlight apps request permission to do," Corrons wrote in his report, posted on an Avast blog earlier this week.
On the upside, of the 900+ apps Corrons analyzed, only seven were found to be truly malicious. Most just showed ads.
But many flashlight apps nevertheless have enough system privileges to be able to steal user information, disable antivirus scanning, install malicious software or get the user to click on malicious links -- if they were so inclined. And all it takes is a software update to turn a benign app into a malicious one.
Below is a list of the top 10 worst permissions takers, according to Corrons. If you have one of these, remove it.
- Ultra Color Flashlight
- Super Bright Flashlight
- Flashlight Plus
- Brightest LED Flashlight — Multi LED & SOS Mode
- Fun Flashlight SOS mode & Multi LED
- Super Flashlight LED & Morse code
- FlashLight – Brightest Flash Light
- Flashlight for Samsung
- Flashlight – Brightest LED Light & Call Flash
- 1Free Flashlight – Brightest LED, Call Screen
Honestly, you should just remove any flashlight app. All Android phones have had a built-in flashlight since Android 5 Lollipop, released in the fall of 2014. If your phone is still running anything earlier, it's time for a new phone.