Yandex, the Russian search engine company, is harvesting data from millions of iOS users



(Photo: Unsplash/ Jeremy Bezanger) iOS

Yandex, the Russian search engine and advertising company, is harvesting data from millions of iOS users and sending it to Russia, according to a new claim.

Yandex sends data to Russia

Yandex, the Russian version of Google, manages a search engine, advertising tools and other services. Its services include the AppMetrica API, which many developers use as an easy way to get analytics data for their apps.

According to the Financial Times, security researcher Zach Edwards discovered that Yandex scanning code is embedded in 52,000 applications on Apple and Google software.

From there, Yandex would have reached hundreds of millions of iOS users, according to Apple Insider.

Read also : Yandex employee found guilty of stealing search engine code

Yandex acknowledged that data collected through its API and other services is sent to Russian servers. The search engine noted that it has a strict process for handling government data requests, which includes rejecting any request that does not comply with relevant procedural and legal requirements.

However, security experts warn that once the data is stored in Russia, Yandex cannot do anything to prevent the Russian government from obtaining it.

Additionally, some of the data collected by the Yandex API includes metadata that can be used to identify iOS users.

Edwards, who discovered the prevalence of the code, said using apps that send the data to Russia is dangerous for people with a high threat profile or in high-level jobs. This can potentially lead to attacks on home networks and other forms of digital surveillance.

Applications that use the AppMetrica API include messaging service, games, location sharing tools, and many virtual private network VPN applications.

Seven of the VPNs identified by the researchers explicitly target Ukrainians. The total number of application downloads with the API reaches hundreds of millions.

Yandex defended its tool by comparing it to development kits provided by Google and other search engines. He also said that he never provided information about users of apps that had AppMetrica installed, nor did they ask for it.

Apple said the AppMetrica API could be terminated with its own App Tracking Transparency technology.

Yandex laid off US-based workers

News that Yandex was harvesting iOS user data came after the search engine, and the advertising company reportedly laid off dozens of its US-based employees.

The company had a fleet of self-driving vehicles in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it claimed the state had suspended its licenses. However, the State of Michigan denied this claim.

According to The Verge, the vehicle licenses were due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For this reason, Yandex is stopping its AV testing in Michigan. This includes halting testing and deployments of its delivery robots at its campuses in Ohio and Arizona.

On March 9, the Michigan Department of Transportation suspended the company’s vehicle licenses. This prompted Yandex to lay off six of its drivers in Ann Arbor.

In addition to the six drivers, Yandex also laid off 21 workers in Ohio and Arizona working as field support staff for the company’s delivery robots.

In 2021, Grubhub and Yandex teamed up to deliver lunches to college campuses.

Related article: Yandex, the Russian research giant, is making a self-driving minibus shuttle

This article belongs to Tech Times

Written by Sophie Webster

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