Sarahah app uploading users' contacts to company's servers

29 August, 2017, 00:16 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • Screengrab via Gadget Gig  YouTube

Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, everyone is talking about the app for the past couple of weeks.

Sarahah, an anonymous feedback app that has recently exploded in popularity across the globe, is now coming under fire for privacy violations. It was created in Saudi Arabia by developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, according to news accounts.

Other apps that send users' contacts to external servers are more forthright in their privacy policies.

The company is under fire after reports that the app is gathering user information. The app is however, collecting more than feedback messages. According to a report in The Intercept, Sarahah is getting all your email addresses and contact details and storing them on its servers.

It was delayed due to a technical issue. He further tweeted that the company's database doesn't hold the contacts and the data request will be removed in the next update. He also tweeted that Sarahah now stores no contacts in its databases, which is impossible to verify. However, as the analyst revealed the app has been uploading entire contact books. The report has cited a security analyst at Bishop Fox, named Zachary Julian.




"As soon as you log into the application, it transmits all of your email and phone contacts stored on the Android operating system", he said, later confirming the same happens on iOS. Interestingly, the app was doing the same for the devices running on iOS. Julian reportedly found that the same occurs on iPhone, and that the app will also re-download all of your contacts if you haven't accessed it on your phone in some time.

In case you are anxious about Sarahah having access to your contact data without any real goal at the moment, it can be turned off before you install the app, or even after you are done installing.

On a related note, it is very common for Android apps to secretly team up and steal your data. "The privacy policy specifically states that if it plans to use your data, it'll ask for your consent", Julian said. However this does not translate to justifying the uploading of contacts without user permission.

Julian added that the app does this all over again if you use it after a break. But all but the most expensive Android phones are notoriously slow to receive updates like Marshmallow, and around 54 percent of Android users are using older versions that don't have these permissions, and users have to be savvy enough to know where to find the app permissions (Settings Apps Gear button App permissions). Sarahah argues that this allows people from work to give constructive advice in an anonymous way, users get to know their areas of strength as well as their areas that need improvement. Although in certain cases it asks for permission to access contacts, it does not disclose that it uploads such data.

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