Several popular iPhone apps are quietly recording your screens

Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays

Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays

Glassbox utilizes "session replay" technology, which lets app developers record and play back screen activity for troubleshooting purposes.

According to TechCrunch's Zack Whittaker, numerous apps rely on Glassbox, a customer service analytics company.

Neither Apple, Air Canada, Expedia, Hotels.com, Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister immediately responded to requests for comment. This means anyone with access to these replays can access sensitive information. Case in point: previous year, The App Analyst blog found out that due to poor code execution, details of 20,000 Air Canada customers were compromised. Air Canada employees with the session data could potentially see your private information.

Using Charles Proxy, a man-in-the-middle tool used to intercept the data sent from the app, the researcher examined what data was going out of the device. The breach leaked passport numbers and other sensitive data. So, not too bad.

The company told the developers and the companies to remove the recording code on their apps or properly disclose to users that their screens will be recorded.

That could be a problem if any one of Glassbox's customers aren't properly masking data, he said in an email. Unfortunately, the feature can also be exploited by app developers to secretly record your activities. Now, they have moved a step ahead and started to record the whole screen without knowing the users. In fact, they didn't find any mention of that in fine print of their privacy policies. But Glassbox "does not force its customers" to mention that they use screen recording tools in their privacy policies. So really, there's no way to know.

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Popular iOS apps such as Air Canada and Expedia were found to be recording user actions via Glassbox analytics. Neither did Singapore Airlines.

Abercrombie said the "session replay" technology helps create "a seamless shopping experience, enabling us to identify and address any issues customers might encounter in their digital experience".

Expedia noted that its brands aren't using Glassbox on any of its "native applications for iOS or Android". Not only can they record activity, but they can also screenshot your screen as well as document when you tap, swipe, type or push buttons within the app.

From a user experience perspective, this makes sense. Companies rely on this kind of technology for their survival. This includes user information entered in, and collected on, the Air Canada mobile app. The companies, including Glassbox, vow that their recordings are encrypted and mask sensitive data automatically, including keyboard presses.

What does SIA do with your data?

Air Canada, in turn, said that it "uses customer provided information to ensure we can support their travel needs and to ensure we can resolve any issues that may affect their trips". The idea of these session recording services is to capture how people use certain apps. It can monitor how many seconds you spend looking at a particular screen.

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