Kathryn Lindsay
July 25, 2015 1:51 pm

As someone who literally just got a text from her cell phone provider letting her know she’s nearly used up all her data for the month, this news is concerning. It’s possible that up to 15% of smartphone apps are loading invisible ads that can eat up as much as two gigabytes of connection data per day.

Not cool. These apps can start running behind-the-scenes programs, operations and ads that continue even after you’ve closed the app, eating away at your battery and your monthly data. And, according to ad fraud detection firm Forensiq, who released the study that revealed all this, the background stuff isn’t even important to the purpose of the app! Mike Andrews, the chief scientist for Forensiq, spoke about this scandal to Mashable:

They figured all this out by tracking ad exchanges and digital marketplaces, and creating algorithms that rooted out suspicious and non-human behavior. While all that sounds complicated, luckily the steps to fixing this problem aren’t at all. The first thing you can do is take a look at your apps in your Settings, and see if any are exhibiting a particularly high amount of data usage. Keep an eye on your smaller, lesser-known apps, ’cause that’s where the study found this fraudulent behavior is most prevalent. To shut the problem down completely, turn off cellular data for all apps that don’t absolutely need it. This can be toggled on and off at will, but for the most part means that your apps can’t do anything unless you’re on wifi.

This is a bummer to hear about, but we can outsmart it. We need that precious data for trying to remember a Taylor Swift lyric, or ordering Seamless at the exact right time so it gets to your house just as you’re arriving home. Keep an eye on your apps, and you’re good to enjoy your Chinese food in peace.

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