Droid Incredible Secretly Tracks Surfing Habits?
Buyer beware: HTC's Sense UI may have a potentially serious security issue on Android smartphones.
The new HTC Droid Incredible may have an unusual bug that could be potentially dangerous for consumers. Although HTC has not presently confirmed the existence of the software glitch, the issue resides with HTC's Sense UI and the way it periodically stores screenshots--JPEG files--of the phone's web browser. That in itself is not what's generating so much concern, as this feature is related to the HTC Sense UI bookmark widget.
Rather, the problem lies with the fact that these JPEG files cannot be easily deleted from the device. Obviously that could be a huge privacy issue if the phone fell into the wrong hands.
The actual JPEG files are saved in a folder named .bookmark_thumb1--this resides in the emmc folder of the phone's internal storage. Typically a factory reset would delete these files, however that's not the case here.
According to a recent report, images of Facebook accounts, online banking accounts, and screenshots of other website visitation still remained on the device after deleting the browser history. The images were still present even after a full factory reset.
The fluke didn't just reside on one stock, un-rooted HTC Droid Incredible. Tests conducted with other units showed the same issue--JPEG files that won't go away even after a full factory reset. Obviously this defeats any possibilities of selling the device used offline or online, or to return the unit for repairs or upgrade.
The good news is that the files can be deleted from the device manually, however consumers will need to know exactly where to go. The bad news is that consumers are also reporting similar issues with the HTC Desire and the HTC Droid Eris.
Recently we reported that Google was revamping Android's UI for the next OS update, codenamed Gingerbread. It's believed that Google is shooting for an iPhone-like experience that will make custom UIs unnecessary. Looks like the Sense UI situation just fortified those claims.