Angry Birds Sharing Users Data to Marketers

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How many of You like to play mobile games ? I think everyone here. Yup.! its me too. Most when it is Android games which are popular like, Angry Birds, Subway Suffer or something else... But do you know a game that looks like a simple game, can how much dangerous for us. Yeah its right, a security provider firm "FireEye" have brought some thing for us that we didn't know.


FireEye have noted that Rovio maker of "Angry Bird" is sharing users personal information and that also without the prior notice of the users. They seem to operating well within the law and the EULA which allows them to. This done unscrupulously by Rovio using the information of over half a billion users who have created online Rovio accounts to save their game progress.

On the blog post FireEye mention that even after a slew of reports and complaints against Rovio for this kind of information sharing, Rovio continues to share personal information. FireEye quoted that more than a quarter billion users who create Rovio accounts to save their game progress across multiple devices might be unwittingly sharing all kinds ofinformation like age, gender etc., with multiple parties for profit.

FireEye discussing the scenario says that,
Once a Rovio account is created and personal information uploaded their data might be shared in multiple locations like: Angry Birds Cloud, Burstly (ad mediation platform), and third-party ad networks such as Jumptap and Millennial Media. The FireEye researchers analysed the different versions of Angry Birds and found that multiple versions of the game can share personal information in clear text, including email, address, age and gender. They mentioned that "Users can avoid sharingpersonal data by playing Angry Birds without Rovio account, but that won’t stop the game from sharing device information.

Most users create Rovio accounts to save game progress and scores for getting into the global leaderboard. But in the same registration process, the FireEye says that the App also captures users birthdays, email address and gender. And if you think your are protected against such kind of information theft, the Rovio's end-use license agreement (EULA) and privacy policy grant the publisher, the rights to upload the collected information to third-party entities for marketing.

In summary, Angry Birds collects user’s personal information and associates with customer id before storing it in the smart phone storage. Then the Burstly ad library embedded in Angry Birds fetches the customer id, uploads the corresponding personal information to the Burstly cloud, and transmits it to other advertising clouds. We have caught such traffics in the network packet captures and the corresponding code paths in the reversed engineered source code.


The Traffic flow of information from Rovio is given below
Angry Birds uses native code called libAngryBird.so to access storage and help the ad libraries store logs, caches, database, configuration files, and AES-encrypted game data. For users with a Rovio account, this data includes the user’s personal information in clear text or easily decrypted formats. For example, some information is stored in clear text in the web view cache called webviewCacheChromium:

{“accountId”:”AC3XXX…XXXA62B”,”accountExtRef”:”hE…fDc”,”personal”:{“firstName”:null,”lastName”:null,“birthday”:”19XXXXX-01″, “age”:”30″, “gender”:”FEMALE”, “country”:”United States” , “countryCode”:”US”, “marketingConsent”:false, “avatarId”:”AVXXX…XXX2c”,”imageAssets”:[...], “nickName”:null}, “abid”:{“email”:”eXXX…XXXe@XXX.XXX”, “isConfirmed”:false}, “phoneNumber”:null, “facebook”:{“facebookId”:”",”email”:”"},”socialNetworks”:[]}

The device is given a universal id 1XXXX8, which is stored in the webviewCookiesChromium database in clear text:

cu1XXXX8|{“name”:”cu1XXXX8“,”value”:”3%2XXX…XXX6+PM”}|13XXX…XXX1

The id “1XXXX8″ labels the personal information when uploaded by the ad mediation platform. Then the information is passed to ad clouds.

1. The initial traffic captures in the PCap shows what kind of information Angry Birdsuploads to Burstly:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2014 XX:XX:XX GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
ServerName: P-ADS-OR-WEBC #22
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-ReqTime: 0
Content-Length: 0
Connection: keep-alive
POST /Services/PubAd.svc/GetSingleAdPlacement HTTP/1.1
Content-type: text/json; charset=utf-8

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.4.2; en-us; Ascend Y300 Build/KOT49H) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30

Content-Length: 1690
Host: neptune.appads.com
Connection: Keep-Alive

{“data”:{“Id”:”8XXX5″,”acceptLanguage”:”en”,”adPool”:0,”androidId”:”u1XXX…XXXug”,”bundleId”: “com.rovio.angrybirds”,…,”cookie”:[{"name":"cu1XXX8","value":"3XXX6+PM"},{"name":"vw","value":"ref=1XXX2&dgi=,eL,default,GFW"},{"name":"lc","value":"1XXX8"},{"name":"iuXXXg","value":"x"},{"name":"cuXXX8","value":"3%2XXXPM"},{"name":"fXXXg","value":"ref=1XXX712&crXXX8=2,1&crXXX8=,1"}], “crParms”:”age=30,androidstore=’com.android.vending’, customer=’googleplay’, gender=’FEMALE’, version=’4.1.0′”, “debugFlags”:0, “deviceId”:”aXXX…XXXd”, “encDevId”:”xXXX….XXXs=”, “encMAC”:”iXXX…XXXg=”, “ipAddress”:”",“mac”:”1XXX…XXX9″, “noTrack”:0,”placement”:”", “pubTargeting”:”age=30, androidstore=’com.android.vending’, customer=’googleplay’, gender=’FEMALE’, version=’4.1.0′”,”rvCR”:”", “type”:”iq”,”userAgentInfo”:{“Build”:”1.35.0.50370″, “BuildID”:”323″, “Carrier”:”",”Density”:”High”, “Device”:“AscendY300″, “DeviceFamily”:“Huawei”, “MCC”:”0″,”MNC”:”0″,…

We can see the information transmitted to neptune.appads.com includes gender, age, android id, device id, mac address, device type, etc. In another PCap in which Angry Birdssends POST to the same host name, the IP address is transmitted too:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
POST /Services/v1/SdkConfiguration/Get HTTP/1.1
Host: neptune.appads.com
IpAddress”:”fXXX…XXX9%eth0″,…

According to whois records, the registrant organization of neptune.appads.com is Burstly, Inc. Therefore, the aforementioned information is actually transmitted to Burstly. It Both PCaps contain the keyword “crParms.” This keyword is also used in the source code to putpersonal information into a map sent as a payload.

Skyrocket.com is an app monetization service provided by Burstly. The following PCap shows that Angry Birds retrieves the customer ID from Skyrocket.com through an HTTP GET request:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private
Content-Type: text/html
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2014 07:12:25 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
ServerName: P-ADS-OR-WEBA #5
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-ReqTime: 2
X-Stats: geo-0
Content-Length: 9606
Connection: keep-alive
GET /7….4/ad/image/1…c.jpg HTTP/1.1

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.4.2; en-us; Ascend Y300 Build/KOT49H) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30

Host: cdn.skyrocketapp.com

Connection: Keep-Alive

{“type”:”ip”,”Id”:”9XXX8″,…”data”:[{"imageUrl":"http://cdn.skyrocketapp.com/79...2c.jpg","adType":{"width":300, "height":250, "extendedProperty":80}, "dataType": 64, "textAdType":0,"destType":1,"destParms":"","cookie":[{"name":"fXXXg", "value": "ref=1XXX2&cr1XXX8=2,1&cr1XXX8=1&aoXXX8=", "path":"/", "domain": "neptune.appads.com", "expires":"Sat, 05 Apr 2014 XXX GMT", "maxage": 2…0}, {"name":"vw","value":"ref=1XXX2&...},...,"cbi":"http://bs.serving-sys.com/Burstin...25&rtu=-1","cbia":["http://bs….":1,"expires":60},..."color":{"bg":"0…0"}, "isInterstitial":1}

2. In this PCap, the ad is fetched by including the customer id 1XXX8 into the HTTP POST request to jumptap.com, i.e. Millennial Media:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private
Content-Type: text/html
Date: Thu, XX Mar 2014 XX:XX:XX GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
ServerName: P-ADS-OR-WEBC #17
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-ReqTime: 475
X-Stats: geo-0;rcf88626-255;rcf75152-218
Content-Length: 2537
Connection: keep-alive
GET /img/1547/1XXX2.jpg HTTP/1.1

Host: i.jumptap.com

Connection: keep-alive

Referer: http://bar/
X-Requested-With: com.rovio.angrybirds
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.4.2; en-us; Ascend Y300 Build/KOT49H) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30

Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Language: en-US
Accept-Charset: utf-8, iso-8859-1, utf-16, *;q=0.7

{"type":"ip","Id":"8XXX5","width":320,"height":50,"cookie":[],”data”:[{"data":"<!-- AdPlacement : banner_ingame_burstly…","adType":{"width":320, "height":50, "extendedProperty":2064 },"dataType":1, "textAdType":0, "destType":10, "destParms":"", "cookie":[{"name":"...", "value":"ref=...&cr1XXX8=4,1&cr1XXX8=2,1", "path":"/", "domain":"neptune.appads.com", "expires":"Sat, 0X Apr 2014 0X:XX:XX GMT", "maxage":2XXX0}, {"name":"vw",..., "crid":7XXX2, "aoid":3XXX3, "iTrkData":"...", "clkData":"...","feedName":"Nexage"}]}

In this pcap, the advertisement is retrieved from jumptap.com. We can use the same customer id “1XXXX8” to easily track the PCap of different ad libraries.

3. For example, in another PCap from turn.com, customer id remains the same:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private
Content-Type: text/html
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2014 07:30:54 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
ServerName: P-ADS-OR-WEBB #6
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-ReqTime: 273
X-Stats: geo-0;rcf88626-272
Content-Length: 4714
Connection: keep-alive
GET /server/ads.js?pub=24…
PvctPFq&acp=0.51 HTTP/1.1

Host: ad.turn.com

Connection: keep-alive

Referer: http://bar/
Accept: */*
X-Requested-With: com.rovio.angrybirds

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.4.2; en-us; Ascend Y300 Build/KOT49H) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30

Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Language: en-US
Accept-Charset: utf-8, iso-8859-1, utf-16, *;q=0.7

{“type”:”ip”,”Id”:”0…b”,”width”:320,”height”:50,”cookie”:[],”data”:[{"data":"<!-- AdPlacement : banner_ingame_burstly --> \"http://burstly.ads.nexage.com:80..." destParms":"", "cookie":[{"name":"f...g", "value":"ref=1...0&cr1XXXX8=k,1&cr...8=i, 1","path":"/", "domain":"neptune.appads.com", "expires":"Sat, 0X Apr 2014 0X:XX:XX

Earlier this year, US Government Contractor "Edward Snowden" stats that Angry Birda shared private user information with NSA and GCHQ. But after the noted of media publication they directly denies the statement and stated they didn't have any collaborate or collude with any government spy agencies such as NSA or GCHQ anywhere in the world. Now one again FireEye shows that they are sharing the users data for profit, What this means?

We have tried to make contact with Rovio (Angry Bird Team) on this, hope we get some information from there side too.

Source:- FireEye
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