The Next Web reported earlier this week on an interesting experiment by developer Daniel Amitay who anonymously collected user passcodes through his app Big Brother Camera Security. Amitay posted the results of this anonymous data gathering on his blog and the internet was aflame yesterday with the information along with dire warnings about choosing a secure passcode for your iOS device.
From the data he collected, 1234 was revealed as the most common passcode used, followed by 0000. Note that these were not the passcodes used to access the iPhones and iPod touches sampled but simply those used to access his Big Brother Camera Security app. However, it’s likely that many of these users also use the same passcode to unlock their iPhones or iPod touches.
A chart of the most common passcodes published by Amitay:
Amitay stated today that Apple removed Big Brother Camera Security from the App Store over concerns that he was collecting this information:
Got a call from Apple last night regarding the removal of Big Brother from the App Store. Apparrently, Apple believed that I was “surreptitiously harvesting user passwords.”
Amitay has since removed this data-collecting code from the app and re-submitted it to Apple for approval though he stands firm that his app did not violate any of Apple’s guidelines since the passcode data collected came from his app alone and did not include any information to identify users.
On the surface, Amitay’s actions are a little alarming in that it’s abundantly clear developers can easily collect data on how you use their apps (not that we didn’t already know this, but this situation is a blatant reminder). I do believe that sharing information like this can help iOS device users be more mindful of the passcodes they use and could cause some to choose more secure ones. However, if Amitay did not disclose up front to users of Big Brother Camera Security that this data would be collected, his actions feel underhanded despite the lack of any malicious intent.