Snapchat has a parental control system that allows parents to see who their children are talking to. Photo: Internet
Madrid. Europa Press (I)
More and more companies technologicalmainly those focused on communication and social networks, those that develop their own parental control tools.
The purpose is to offer greater protection to users who are less aware of their activities on the network.
refers to children and teenagerswho manage to have some privacy and avoid this control with the so-called applications of boveda o ‘vault apps’.
Platforms like Instagram o TikTok They already have measures to prevent minors from having access to harmful or inappropriate content and that these offer them publications according to their age.
Snapchat, for example, even has a parental control system that allows parents to see who their children are talking to. It’s called Family Center.
Despite the existence of these features, which record the interactions of children and adolescents, some parents and guardians prefer to directly check the phones of minors and find out what applications they have downloaded and use daily.
Until now, this traditional form of control was effective, since at a single glance they could know what services their children were familiar with. However, some of these have already tested and use the so-called vault applications on a daily basis.
Also Known As ‘vault apps‘, which means something like safe or armored applications, receive this name because they are designed to hide and secure files, data, messages and calls.
They do it with authentication methods such as codes, passwords or biometric data such as fingerprints.
They also use fake utilities as lures to avoid attracting attention. This is how they can look like a calculator, for example, with numerical keys and signs, although in reality they give access to all the files they hide once a secret key is entered.
“They work by fragmenting files. To hide a photo, the ‘app’ creates different parts of it. Each separate file contains significant information about the image, but separately it doesn’t make sense,” explains Panda Security’s Global Consumer Operations Manager, Herve Lambert.
Lambert points out that “by looking only at the name of the file, no one could know what it contains.”
That, because “it uses a nomenclature that is more similar to a random sequence of characters.”
Operation of vault applications
Locating the ‘vault apps’ also depends on their nature, since there are some that “just blend in”. Others, on the other hand, can only be detected using forensic analysis tools or by analyzing device activity logs.
That is possible with more specific and cost-effective solutions, reveals the director of Research and Awareness at Eset Spain, Josep Albors.
These applications are also easy to use and maintain, which may encourage young people to install them on all their devices.
“Some of them sync so you can see the files on your phone or Chromebook,” says Lambert.
It clarifies that some of them also incorporate browsers, so inappropriate content can be accessed from them without the need to activate incognito tabs or use other browsing methods that hide the search history.
Despite their current popularity, the ‘vault apps’ They are not new, but rather their origin dates back more than a decade. “Until now they were not known because they were given another use and it was not available to the entire spectrum of users. The current one is more youthful, who uses it to hide their secrets and other personal matters,” adds the Kaspersky cybersecurity analyst. Mark Rivero.
Lambert places its peak around 2012, with the popularization of Snapchat, which was characterized by the fact that the content disappeared after the user had seen it.
“These ‘apps’ allowed you to save and hide ‘sexting’ chats that otherwise would have disappeared,” he says.
This practice consists of sending photographs or videos of sexual content on a voluntary basis. Thus, these applications can become “a very useful tool for sexual predators to hide the material they obtain from their victims on their phones,” according to Lambert.
It was already in 2015 when its use to hide photographs was noticed, as Albors recalls, who says that “its use has become more common in recent years, as concern for data security has increased personal and privacy.
Misuse of legal applications
The experts in cybersecurity They agree that, despite being misused, these applications are legal and for this reason they are kept in official application stores such as the Play Store and App Store, as long as they comply with their regulations.
Hence, it is relevant to make both minors and their parents and guardians aware of the dangers that they can entail if they are used for purposes of this type.
“There’s a long way to go when it comes to disclosing cybersecurity risks,” says Lambert.
He also insists on the need for a State pact for cybersecurity in which both public and private organizations collaborate “hand in hand to minimize the scourge of cybercrime”.