A new study from digital security firm ViaForensics found the large majority of social networking apps for smartphones fail to include the necessary measures for protecting user information.
In its most recent appWatchdog security study, ViaForensics revealed that, overall, social networking apps tend to be the least secure of mobile applications. In a review of 19 apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems, 14 received a failing rating and five were hit with a warning.
No app received a passing grade.
Apps received a warning rating if they stored some form of public or non-sensitive information on the mobile device. A failing rating was issued if user-sensitive information, such as direct messages, passwords or instant message logs, were stored directly on the phone.
Applications such as AIM, LinkedIn, Skype and Yahoo! Messenger each received a failing grade.
iPhones proved to be more secure than smartphones based on Google's Android, the study found. This has been an ongoing trend. Because of Android's open-source licensing, apps designed for the platform tend to be more insecure and, thus, have the potential to put user information in harm's way.
"Right now, Apple does a better job on iOS in providing an API where app developers can use a pretty decent mechanism to protect stored information," David Campbell, a mobile security consultant at Electric Alchemy, told Wired in response to the study. "Currently, that doesn't exist on Android."
ViaForensic's latest findings seem to suggest a downward trend in security for the mobile app market. The company's previous report, released in June, evaluated 30 of the most popular social networking, productivity, retail and financial apps, and found that only eight merited a failing grade. Meanwhile, three received passing marks, and 19 were labeled with warning ratings.