Privacy protection firm secure.me is today officially launching App Advisor, a service that aims to protect folks from Facebook apps that harvest personal and/or sensitive user data, often without their knowledge or consent.
Secure.me says it currently analyzes 500,000 apps and has monitored the activities of 50 million Facebook users to essentially build the largest ‘App Security Network’ in the world.
Christian Sigl, founder of secure.me, argues that we’ve gotten used to connecting apps to our Facebook profiles without thinking twice about the consequences, basically agreeing to whatever pops up.
Through the apps.secure.me website, and a browser extension for Chrome, Safari (link coming soon) and Firefox (for starters), users get an independent, transparent overview of which apps have access to what data, and also generates warnings whenever a new app gets installed (i.e. connected to one’s Facebook profile) either on the Facebook platform or when browsing the Web.
More specifically, secure.me will warn users against apps that spam their friends and identify apps that contain viruses and malware.
To grade apps, secure.me takes into account three factors: Facebook permissions, app behaviour and user ratings. Some examples: Angry Birds (high reputation), Dropbox (medium reputation) and TripAdvisor (very poor reputation).
Through analysis, the company has found that six out of ten Facebook apps (63 percent) can post on a user‘s timeline, more than two thirds of the apps (69 percent) have access to a user‘s email address, while 5 out of 100 apps (5 percent) have access to his or her photos and videos (beyond the profile picture).
Secure.me has received backing from several investors, including T-Venture, the venture capital company of Deutsche Telekom.
The company has offices in San Francisco and Munich, Germany.
➤ Secure.me App Advisor (website, see above for links to the browser plug-ins)