Protect Your Privacy While Using Apps

Authored By: Kat Wille on 5/11/2022

 

It’s easy to install an app on your phone without even thinking twice about it. But apps often ask for permission to access the personal information on your phone, and potentially share that information with other companies. Sometimes this is necessary for the function of the app, but it’s not always required, and can sometimes be a security risk. Apps can also come with malware and adware that can be potentially dangerous for your device. Here are some things to keep in mind while downloading an app:

 

The App Store

Before you download an app, make sure you are downloading it from an official app store, such as Apple® AppStore or Google Play™. Apps on these stores have to follow certain criteria and development guidelines in order to be available in official app stores. Third party app stores might not apply the same level of security and scrutiny, which could mean apps coming from those stores have ransomware or malware that could affect your phone. Apps from third party stores may come at a cheaper price, but they also come with a higher risk.

 

The App Access

Before you click that “download” button, take the time to read through the app’s privacy policy. This may seem tedious, but it will give you an idea of how your data will be used. Will it be shared with other companies? How is the information collected? Do they have clear security policies, or are they vague? If their policies are unclear, or you are not comfortable with how your data will be used, consider finding another app. 

 

The App Permissions

In order to gain access to certain features on your phone, such as your camera or photos, apps need to gain your permission. When you first download the app, or when you try to use a certain feature for the first time, something will pop up asking you for permission to access those features. Pay close attention to what the app is asking for, and ask yourself if they really need the access they are asking for. For example, does a certain app really need access to your location to function? 

 

Apps should only need to interact with systems on your phone that align with the intent of the app (a photo editing app asking for permission to access your photos, for example). An app asking for too many unnecessary permissions is not a good sign. 

 

Other tips and things to consider:
 

  • Keep your apps updated
  • Delete apps you do not use or need
  • Limit location permissions
  • Read app reviews
  • Research the app developer
  • Never provide verification codes sent via email/text over the phone
  • Do not use social media accounts to sign into apps
  • Check the permissions of apps you already have

 

Sources:

https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-protect-your-privacy-apps
https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-mobile-the-risks-of-third-party-app-stores.html
https://turbofuture.com/cell-phones/How-to-Tell-if-an-APP-is-Safe-to-Download\
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223305
 



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