Downloading an app on your smartphone can open a door into your personal data. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad actors that can use your personal information to make themselves a quick buck. You might not think much of a random app you download, from a harmless action game to a simple flashlight tool, but think again. Lots of apps are secretly collecting personal data from you, whether that be your location or your phone contacts, without your knowledge.
So how do you protect yourself from apps stealing your information? Thankfully, data privacy apps have laid out a good number of security tips to protect your data. To take control of your privacy, check out this article.
Investigate the company that developed your app
Doing a background check on an app development company may be the last thing on your mind, but it can reveal a lot of information. A background check on a company may involve looking through their website, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media accounts. If they do not have any sort of online presence, that could raise some red flags. Doing a quick lookup of the app development company can reveal the company’s location, incorporation status, and other apps or products they have created.
An easy way to quickly learn if an app developer is a bad actor is to search up their company and “scam” or “stealing data.” You might come across disgruntled users discussing the issue on forums, or even news articles about the company.
What are some things you should look out for if you do run a background check on an app development company? If they own a bunch of random, unrelated and low-quality looking applications, that might be a sign of a company simply trying to get data out of phone users.
Always check security permissions
Upon downloading an app, it might prompt you to allow it to access certain information found in your phone. For example, Google asks for your location and Skype asks for your contact book. The app is asking you for those permissions because it either cannot function without it, or it will greatly enhance user experience. If an app is asking for permissions that are completely unrelated to its function (for example, a flashlight app asking for your location), that should raise some concern.
You can look over the permissions you’ve granted your apps by going into your phone’s settings.
Always keep your software up to date
Old software and operating systems are much easier to hack and manipulate for bad actors. By keeping your device’s software updated, you are giving your phone the best possible protection available. Apple, Android, Google and other tech companies are constantly upgrading their software not only to enhance user experience but also to provide the best possible security for their users.
This is a simple security tip to keep apps from stealing your data that everyone should be following.
Use a password manager
You’ve probably heard people telling you to make a strong password, full of numbers, symbols and capital letters, a million times. But to be even more secure, try using a password manager. These services create unique, complicated passwords for all your accounts. A popular password manager is LastPass, which also conducts frequent evaluations of your online security. Dashlane is another common software used to store all of your passwords in an encrypted format.
It might be hard to imagine the developers behind a harmless ruler app on your phone tracking down your exact location. Or you might be someone who is meticulous with their security permissions, only allowing reputable apps to access your data. But, even that might not be enough. Did you know that more than one thousand Android apps ignore restrictions on security permissions and continue gathering data from your phone? Some apps circumvent their lack of security permissions by accessing your Wi-Fi network and tapping into your router’s MAC address. Other apps scrape metadata from uploaded photos to get geolocation data.