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Uncertain about what "Wi-fi connection information" means

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by Gary Johnsonn, Apr 9, 2020.

  1. Gary Johnsonn

    Gary Johnsonn Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I use VPN on my phone (orbot). Today I noticed that some apps require "wi-fi connection information" permission. More specifically "Allows the app to view information about wi-fi networking, such as whether wi-fi is enabled and names of connected wi-fi devices". What does that mean? Can they seriously access the wi-fi in such a way that they can check other devices connected??? In other words if Im connected to a wi-fi and someone else gives an app permission to access it they can see that my device is connected too? Is that even legal? Browsing connected devices on a wi-fi is an admin privilege is it not? What gives a mere user of a wi-fi the right to give 3rd parties admin rights on the connected wi-fi??? If an app has this permission does that mean using VPN is more or less pointless? I understand that its not pointless when it comes to web browsing but what about games? I play a mobile game that gives me ads in swiss-german because I use a swiss ip, but when it comes to listing prices on things it still gives me the price in the currency my country uses. Im guessing thats because they have access to the wi-fi and can see where I am despite the VPN?

    I also have a side question if anyone reading this is a user of XePlayer:
    I only installed it today so I have no exp using it. On my phone Im able to access the permissions given to FireFox and turn them all off without it leading to hickups using FireFox. But on the XePlayer Im not able to turn anything off, there isnt even a slider. Not to mention the app has tons of more permissions enabled than on my phone. Am I missing something? Why cant I edit the permissions?

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  2. Brian Berry

    Brian Berry Well-Known Member

    Your IP address is public information whether you obfuscate or rely on a firewall to protect your computers identity is up to you. I use wifi connection information because my app errors on weak or no connection however I give the user an error message stating that their connection is either weak or non existent. I purely use it for app usability and stability. I can only see the connection information too I can't modify it or redirect the public information. The information that is truly public and being used on most every network device is all we are using. Also any programmer worth their salt is a network admin.

    Gary Johnsonn likes this.
  3. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    No, it means WiFi devices connected to your phone, not all other devices connected to the same WiFi network. So it can see what WiFi network/router you are connected to (the SSID). It may let you see what other devices connect to your phone when you use the hotspot function - not sure about that. It doesn't mean that the app has some crazy hacker ability to interrogate any router it is connected to (in fact this permission is regarded as low threat and automatically granted on most android devices).
  4. Gary Johnsonn

    Gary Johnsonn Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thank you for the replies guys!

    @Hadron Thats kinda what I was getting at. So if the game app reads my SSID it doesnt really matter that Im using VPN because they have access to info before I complete the VPN connection and thats the reason why they give me the price in my country's currency? Is there a way to circumvent that and gain back the anonymity I thought I have?
  5. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    The SSID is just a name you choose for the network. It doesn't convey any useful information about your location to an app (unless you go and include your name or address in the network name). Are you sure there isn't something else giving it away? Your location, cellular network ID, some other localisation setting it has access to? Does an app know which region's Play Store you installed it from?
    Gary Johnsonn likes this.
  6. Gary Johnsonn

    Gary Johnsonn Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @Hadron Yes maybe it knows which region of the Play Store I downloaded it from, because now it gets even weirder. I checked its permissions and the only one it has (in fact the only one its asking for) is storage. It has no other! I originally thought it does because as mentioned I tested XePlayer earlier today, and when accessing the game from there it asked for all kinds of permissions including the Wi-fi info. Just like firefox, that one also, as previously mentioned, only has storage access on my phone. But on XePlayer both are asking, scratch that, demanding many horrifying permissions and leave me no sliders to regulate it like they do on the phone.
    Even I who wrote that find it confusing so Ill add scrnshts of it:
    Firefox on XePlayer demands more or less every permission one can image and leaves no room for editing.
    Firefox on the phone however asks about the "usual" permissions but I can turn all of them off except storage and it works perfectly well.
    Why are they so different when theyre seemingly on the same platform; Andorid? Sry for the huge images, Im not sure whether putting them in as thumbnails will make it possible to click on them for enlargement. As for the game, on the phone it only shows storage with slider while in XePlayer it shows same type of horrifying permissions as FireFox does. Unfortunately Play Store doesnt work if I force it to use Orbot's VPN, so Play Store always has my real IP/location. If the game is communicating with it, or took note when I downloaded the game, then as you said thats the only explanation I can see for why it knows which currency to show me. I can add that the game has access to my facebook, which says Im in England and is always logged into from a spanish IP from a computer. So even that is misinforming the game, yet it just somehow knows... I have never purchased anything on the phone either, so never has my credit card number been inputed if you should think thats how it knows. Im tempted to send them a support ticket asking why the game is showing me the "wrong" currency and see what their answer is going to be, but this day is coming to an end and Im too lazy to do that rn. Id still love to know why the permissions are so different even though its seemingly the same platform if you should have any ideas/knowledge.
  7. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    I know nothing about XePlayer, but for Firefox permissions try going back to that screen you posted, touching the 3-dot button in the top-right corner and telling it you want to see "all permissions". By default that screen only shows you the ones you can control: there are others that are not considered personally sensitive which are granted by default when you install an app (or, in the case of internet access, they don't want you to be able to turn off as that would kill the ad-supported model for apps which don't require the internet for their main function).

    For info, yes, if you select thumbnails the reader can click on them to see the full-size image.
    puppykickr and Gary Johnsonn like this.
  8. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Any time you're using a VPN you need to be aware of its basic, fundamental way of working. A VPN establishes a tunnel where your phone's access to the Internet is getting bounced through one or more servers that may or may not even be in your same country. That's how a VPN bypasses the IP address your carrier or your ISP is providing to your device, that VPN tunnel is an encrypted link to a different server that will of course be connected to the Internet using a completely different IP address. So while you view Firefox as some kind of horror show you are instead trying to bypass its inherent security and privacy because a lot of online services are tied directly to at least your approximate locale. The problem being you want things to all work with your chosen VPN service but you don't want to take into account how they work in the back end.
    Gary Johnsonn likes this.
  9. Brian Berry

    Brian Berry Well-Known Member

    I've thought this over for a couple of days and I've come to the conclusion that even though you are using a VPN your VPN connection starts after the first router hop after it leaves your router. So it's true that the app gets your IP address before the connection leaves your router however I doubt there are many apps in the play store that even allow you to do anything that you would need to hide such as downloading pirated movies or something. Secondly whatever you are trying to hide would be apparent to your ISP anyway however most ISP aren't interested in your network traffic unless they are ordered by a government agency to warn or disconnect you or gather connections information. I mean if you think the beginning point of your connection is "secret" you are mistaken. A VPN does make it more difficult to get the endpoint of the connection but it does little or nothing for the starting point of the connection which will always be publicly visible to somebody and the data flowing across the beginning point would always be visible. Network traffic is bi-directional. So if you think about it for a minute it doesn't matter that the beginning point is being used only the endpoint which the app knows nothing about. So really there is no need to worry about whether or not the app records the beginning point because it is always visible to the first router at the very least. Disconnecting from the internet is probably your only way of securing the beginning point of the connection. Just my 2 cent analysis.

    Gary Johnsonn likes this.
  10. Gary Johnsonn

    Gary Johnsonn Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Hmm, Im not sure I understand everything @Brian Berry and @svim are saying:( Im not doing anything illegal, Im just trying to mask myself to trackers and all the anal probing thats all. I hate personalized shit, it makes my blood boil. I may add that the ads I get in the game are usually in swiss, so it is working at some lvl. But if the app has access to wi-fi info then, if Ive understood correctly Im pretty much ****ed anyway when it comes to not giving facebook and the other parasites access to my arsehole...

    @Hadron I had no clue there were "hidden" permissions. Now Im really sad... I mean wtf is this shit? Im amazed that there exists no alternative to all this anal probing SHIT. Is there really no OS for phones out there that takes the standpoint of us users rather than our corporate masters? How are ppl fine with all this? Im guessing they just dont know, like me... What a sad f world we live in...
    #10 Gary Johnsonn, Apr 13, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  11. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Yeah, I know that this is an older thread.

    But, I have found a newer app that blocks trackers and seems to work well for games.

    I have not ironed out all the bugs as far as using it all the time myself, but it works similar to a firewall in one way and it can also be used to block trackers in a customizable way.

    It is a bit time consuming to set up, but when you see the sorts of tracking that even the most mundane or 'secure' apps are inviting into our devices, you may find that this little app suits your needs better than a VPN or a firewall when it comes to tracking.

    TrackerControl (TrackerControl allows to monitor and control hidden data collection in apps.) - https://f-droid.org/packages/net.kollnig.missioncontrol.fdroid
    Gary Johnsonn likes this.

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March 12, 2020
Last Updated

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