(Reuters) — Thousands of smartphone applications on Apple and Google’s online stores contain computer code developed by a technology company, Pushwoosh, which presents itself as based in the United States but is actually Russian, Reuters has found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America’s lead agency for combating major health threats, said it had been tricked into thinking Pushwoosh was based in the US capital. After learning of its Russian roots from Reuters, it removed the Pushwoosh software from seven public-facing apps, citing security concerns.
The US Army said it had removed an app containing Pushwoosh code in March due to the same concerns. That app was used by soldiers at one of the nation̵7;s premier combat training bases.
According to company documents publicly filed in Russia and reviewed by Reuters, Pushwoosh is headquartered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, where it is registered as a software company that also performs data processing. It employs about 40 people and reported revenue of 143,270,000 rubles ($2.4 million) last year. Pushwoosh is registered with the Russian government to pay taxes in Russia.
On social media and in US regulatory filings, but presents itself as a US company, based at various times in California, Maryland and Washington, DC, Reuters found.
Pushwoosh provides code and data processing support for software developers, enabling them to profile the online activity of smartphone app users and send customized push notifications from Pushwoosh servers.
On its website, Pushwoosh says it does not collect sensitive information, and Reuters found no evidence that Pushwoosh mishandled user data.