Screenshot of China Central Television program shows a reporter tests Wi-Fi hack apps.
Mobile apps such as Wi-Fi Skeleton Key and Wi-Fi Key allow users to hack into encrypted Wi-Fi networks and access the Internet without a username or password. But what many users probably don't realize is that information about them is being collected for marketing purposes.
In a recent China Central Television investigation, reporters tested the apps in locations around Beijing and Shanghai. They successfully connected to Wi-Fi networks in residential areas, commercial buildings, and even at the Foreign Ministry. They also found that the apps were collecting the IP addresses and GPS locations of the app users.
Creators of the apps say they make money from advertisements based on their large user base. And the apps have proved to be popular: in one app store, Wi-Fi Skeleton Key and Wi-Fi Key received some 100,000 reviews and had a 4.5 star rating from users.
Qiu Baochang, chief of the Beijing Society of E-Commerce Law, says such apps should always ask for permission before obtaining personal information, and that the app creators have an obligation to protect the legal rights of their users.