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NHS-Approved Apps Leaking ID Data

NHS-Approved Apps Leaking ID Data

A study has found many NHS-accredited smartphone health apps leak data that could be used for ID theft and fraud.

The NHS England's Health Apps library tests programs to ensure they meet standards of clinical and data safety.

The apps are aimed at helping people lose weight, be more active, stop smoking and cut back on drinking.

A study by researchers in London found however that, despite vetting, some apps ignored privacy standards and sent data without encrypting.

Kit Huckvale, a PhD student at Imperial College London who co-wrote the study, said: "If we were talking about health apps generally in the wider world, then what we found would not be surprising."

He added however that finding out that most of the apps had done a poor job of protecting data was in fact a big surprise.

Mr Huckvale and his colleagues examined 79 separate apps listed in the NHS library, and over a period of six months supplied the apps with fake data to assess how they dealt with it.

Of all 79 apps, 70 sent personal data to associated online services and 23 did so without encrypting it.

The apps that leaked the most data have now been removed from the library.

Mr Huckvale said, if intercepted, the data could be used for ID theft or fraud.

He added that most of the data that was gathered and shared was about a person's phone or identity, with only a small number collecting information about the health of users.


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