With smartphones in hand, you must be downloading and using many of the apps in the market. Mobile apps are fun to use and just too convenient to download that you might download them without even thinking once. But, there are some considerations to make before you download an app, such as, how they are paid, what information will the app receive from you and who will get access to your information. It is a matter of your security and privacy.
Most often, you get to some good download sites and click on the Download button to get the app or software that you need. But, all this while things have changed and have become a bit messy. You can never be sure of where will you land after clicking the Download button. It is important to beware of deceptive download links that can be a threat to your security and privacy.
Personal Data Access Permissions by Apps
When you download apps, you give them permission to let them access information on your device. You must be aware of what information the app is asking for, before you download it. Some apps only access data that they need to function and are therefore, safe to download. But, some might access data that is not related to the app’s purpose. Some apps ask for access to your phone and email contacts, call logs, internet data, device’s location, device’s unique IDs, etc. There was this ‘Flashlight’ app that was asking for user’s location. Such personal information can be misused, if reaches the wrong hands. And, you are totally unaware of whom this information reaches. When the apps are retrieving you information, they must be collecting it somewhere too; maybe, at the app store or with the app developer, advertiser or any ad network. This way your data can be shared with others and can cause you trouble.
Malware and Security Concerns
Some hackers have succeeded in creating apps that can infect your smart phones with malicious programs. In case, you find notifications of sending an email or a text that you have actually not written, it may be a sign of a malware. Also, a malware can cause auto installation of other apps. So, in case, you find new apps on your phone that you haven’t installed, it’s a malware attack.
For such situations, it is recommended to have a Security App installed on your smart phones. A security app ensures to notify you about the risk of downloading an app, before you download it. Also, a security app can scan and remove apps that are found to be malicious, thereby, protecting your phones.
Unwanted Programs get Installed on your System
You need to be very careful before clicking any Download button or link. Sites like BrotherSoft, CNET, FreewareFiles and Softonic offer you with installers and downloaders for different software and apps. You get options to download the setup files and apk files for different apps over such platforms. But, before giving you access to the file that you want, they install bundleware and potentially unwanted programs on your system.
The fact is that each of these bundled software, when installed, earns the download site, money. This is what makes these sites degrade your user experience. So, don’t you dare to press the Download Now button blindly.
Security Tips to Keep Your Data and Device Safe
Now that you understand the risks associated with mobile apps, here are a few suggestions on how you can keep your data and device safe from malicious apps and threat actors in general:
1. Always use a password manager
While it’s always a safe practice to use strong and complex passwords, remembering them becomes quite difficult. And this is where password managers come into the picture. These apps keep all your passwords safe and encrypted at one place. They also help you generate strong passwords. So, always have a password manager at hand and use strong and unique passwords for all your accounts.
2. Use a VPN when on public WiFi
Using public WiFi has its own bundle of risks. But in case you have no other option than using it, better use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) along with it. VPN protects your data and identity on the public network where hackers are constantly trying to peek into your device. They also safeguard your data in transit, avoid censorship on the internet and much more.
3. Be careful while granting app permissions
Whenever we talk about safeguarding your privacy, this point always comes in the discussion. It is necessary to think twice before allowing any permission to any app. And if some app asks for permissions which go beyond its functionality, it should be an alarming sign for you. Moreover, you must observe your phone’s behaviour after giving permissions to such apps.
4. Have knowledge about the app’s background
If you are not sure about the app you just downloaded, it’s always safe to browse the internet and know more about it. You must look out for recent data or privacy leaks associated with the app or its parent company and also how they responded to it.
5. Keep your software up to date
Keeping your device’s software updated keeps you one step ahead of the hackers. As hackers are constantly updating their techniques, we also need to evolve the ways to protect our devices.
6. Download apps from official stores only
Instead of going for unknown sources, it’s better to prefer only the official app stores for downloading your apps. The official stores test the apps on certain security parameters and make sure that they follow a standard security procedure. On the other hand, downloading apps from insecure websites enhances the risk of malware and other vulnerabilities.
You need to be very particular about all the major security concerns, before you download any app. Many times an app can ask you for unnecessary permissions. Giving such permissions and moving on with the downloading procedure, can be equivalent to risking your privacy. So, act smart and be very sure of what you are doing, while downloading an app.