The Uber app for iOS was found to have the ability to take the screenshots of iPhones without the knowledge of users.
The controversial feature adds to the ever-growing list of scandals and problems of the ride-hailing company, but the twist to this one is that Apple itself granted the ability to the iOS app of Uber.
Uber App For iOS Can Take iPhone Screenshots
The Uber app for iOS is capable of recording the screen of iPhones, even if the app is only running in the background. The existence of the alarming capability has not been disclosed by Uber anywhere, which raises more questions for a company that is already in hot water for various issues.
Almost all iOS apps use what are called "entitlements," which basically enables them to access iPhone features such as the camera or Apple Pay. However, some entitlements are kept at close guard by Apple due to their sensitivity. These entitlements usually have names that start with "com.apple.private," and any third-party app that tries to use them is blocked from being added to Apple's App Store.
Will Strafach, the security researcher who found out about the hidden feature, told Business Insider that the Uber app is the only third-party iOS app that has been granted with the entitlement "com.apple.private.allow-explicit-graphics-priority."
According to Uber, it received permission from Apple to use the private entitlement. The purpose, however, is not to take screenshots of iPhones, but rather to fix map rendering in older versions of the Apple Watch, which were unable to properly carry out the process. The entitlement, Uber says, is currently not being used, with the company promising that it will be removed from the app soon.
Should You Delete The Uber App On Your iPhone?
There is actually no concrete evidence that Uber used the entitlement to really take screenshots of users' iPhones. However, given the company's track record, many customers may find it hard to trust Uber. For example, the so-called Hell program of Uber allegedly allowed the company to monitor the activities of the drivers of rival Lyft, so some may think that the hidden feature could have also allowed Uber to keep track of customers' usage of the Lyft app.
Another concern is that a hacker might be able to break into the network of Uber and take advantage of the capability to steal sensitive information from users, including passwords.
"I find this very frightening and dangerous," said Apple security expert Luca Todesco, a sentiment shared by other experts in the field. Uber said that it will be removing the entitlement from its app soon, but for those who wish to take cybersecurity in their own hands, you might want to delete the Uber app from your iPhones until that happens.