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Pixalate introduces ‘Permissions IVT’ to Media Ratings Terminal (MRT)

Jan 21, 2021 12:00:00 PM

At Pixalate, we work to provide our clients with fraud and compliance data regarding the digital advertising supply chain and the most relevant information for their ad-buying. Our aim is to move the industry forward with actionable insights that serve to make our entire ecosystem safer and more secure. With that aim in mind, we are excited to provide you with greater detail and understanding regarding a new feature within the Media Ratings Terminal (MRT): The Pixalate Permissions IVT Widget.

Permissions IVT provides our clients with a unique view into risks stemming from app permissions — analysis that is not available anywhere else. Permissions IVT provides an understanding of apps that may have high invalid traffic (IVT) rates related to the permissions the app requests.

What is a Permission?

Apps request, and even require, that certain “permissions” be enabled for such apps on the users’ phones. Permissions are required for apps to access or use particular capabilities on a device. Permissions can include:

  • GPS coordinate access
  • Camera access
  • Internet access
  • Available storage usage
  • Keylock disabling
  • Phone state access, including phone number and cellular carrier
  • Package install ability

To be clear, many apps require certain permissions to function properly. For example, one cannot use a mapping app without providing permission for the app to access GPS coordinates; and photography apps require access to your phone’s camera. However, not all permissions requested by apps are necessary for such apps to function as one would expect. Permissions IVT is designed to highlight the level of invalid traffic (IVT) risk that may be associated with excessive permissioning.

AppPermissionsRisk

Pixalate Permissions IVT Widget

The new Permissions IVT Widget in Pixalate’s MRT was developed for Google Android apps and leverages the permission framework established by Google. For common permissions that an app may request, Google identifies security and privacy risks presented by such permissions. While there are permissions outside of Google’s list, Permissions IVT only considers those defined by Google.

The Permissions IVT widget aims to explain which apps have concerning, or even unnecessary, permissions, which may be a signal for increased IVT risk. We highlight these risks via correlation between IVT and the applicable permissions, particularly highlighting IVT risks that spring from permissions that are unnecessary for an app’s functionality. More specifically, we examine the following:

  • Does the app need this permission to function as expected?
  • Does this permission imply that the app may be doing something that could increase IVT risk?
  • Does the app request a high number of unnecessary permissions?

From there, apps are scored within app store categories across these three questions. The intersection between permissions and categorization helps to develop a score of high, medium and low likelihood of IVT risk coming from permissions. 

In the MRT interface, users can toggle between all permissions and the ones identified as dangerous, or concerning, for each app. 

At Pixalate, we believe that Permissions IVT is a critical tool in preventing IVT and a valuable asset for our clients in evaluating partners and maintaining the highest traffic quality standards. 

Learn more about Pixalate's Media Ratings Terminal (MRT).

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