A secure alternative to flashlight apps

A month or two ago I read an eye opening presentation called Shining  the  Light  on  Flashlight  and  the  Security  of  Thousands  of  Mobile  Apps. It’s worth a quick read, especially pages 42 onwards, where the risks of flashlight apps are unveiled. Although the presentation focuses on security risks among the most popular Android and iOS apps, I noticed that pretty much all of the Windows Phone flashlight apps have similarly questionable requirements.

Why does a flashlight need to know where I am? Or have access to my files? Or send a raft of data all over the place? Needless to say, I got rid of my flashlight app.

Fast forward a week or two, and I needed a flashlight (or a torch, as we say in the UK). I decided to use my screen, which was pretty week, and then it occurred to me that I could enable the flash on my camera while in video mode, which does precisely what a flashlight app would do, without the app. It’s not many more “clicks” than launching and enabling an app (especially if I use the hardware key for the camera), and achieves the same result. I don’t know how well this work on other platforms, but I’m struggling to see why it wouldn’t. Hope this helps someone.

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