Mobiles applications have become an integral part of our lives. You don’t realize how much you are surrounded by it. Whether it be to talk to your friends, pass the time, or to keep tabs on your health, different apps are there to satisfy your needs.
In 2017 alone, 178.1 billion apps were downloaded. It is a given that this number will increase in the coming years. You might think that apps have made your life easier in various ways. While this is true, it is also a fact that downloading apps exposes you to security risk. A research was conducted which revealed startling results about app security. According to the study, one out of every four apps out there are plagued by significant flaws in security.
This is why it is believed that there is a lot of risks attached to downloading apps.
The Risk of Apps
When an app gets viral, few of us stop to think whether downloading is a good idea. However, we should stay cautious when downloading apps to avoid the different types of app fraud and data breaches that might occur.
This risk is attached to downloading apps that are not what they seem. The purpose of such apps is to steal personal data of users. Let’s say you heard a lot about a game. You are only aware of its name. You look up the app and find it. However, what you don’t realize is that the app is a clone of the original. While it may present to you like a game, it is a scam that is meant to transfer your contact list or send an SMS to all of them without you knowing.
An app doesn’t outwardly have to scam you to be dangerous. Instead, some of them are just not secure enough to be downloaded. When you download an app, it accesses quite a lot of your information. Some might even ask for access to your camera, contacts, and email, etc. They might tell you that this data won’t be shared with anyone. And they might mean it.
However, if their security is not stringent enough, hackers might find a way in. The fact that big social media platforms like Facebook are exposed to the risk of data breaches showcases that no app can be perfectly safe. But, some might be worse than others. The least you can do is filter out options with extremely weak security features.
Don’t app stores filter out the risky apps?
Generally, people know that there is a risk attached when downloading third-party apps from unofficial sources. However, even when downloading apps from the Apple Store or Google Play, the risk remains.
Well, regardless of how much official app stores filter out the bad apps, there is no 100% guarantee that all fraudulent apps and those with weak security are eliminated. A few researchers belonging to Georgia Tech were able to prove this. As part of their study, they succeeded in sneaking in an app plagued with virus onto the Apple Store.
An official from Casaba, a security firm, commented that whenever you add a new app or update to your device, it can be dangerous. The element of risk can never be eliminated.
How can you stay safe?
Are we to assume that there is no way to avoid the dangers associated with downloading apps? Even if you can’t eliminate it completely, you can surely reduce the risk; You can do so by doing the following.
Research about the apps your download
Before you download any app, regardless of how viral it has become, make a point to research about it. Let’s say; you are downloading a game from AirG. Look at AirG reviews available online. Users of apps and experts can tell you whether the app is a scam or not. Also, even the app itself is safe; you must ensure that you are downloading the original app and not a clone.
Update your operating system
It is shocking how many people still use previous versions of iOS and Android operating system. You might think that you don’t need the upgrade, but the truth is that you do. Security features back each update of the operating system. These features make sure that no data is stolen from your devices without you knowing. So, before you start downloading apps, first update your operating system.
Download from official sources
Whether it be to avoid clones or scam apps, using official sources for downloading apps significantly reduces the risk attached. Google and Apple have proper teams whose sole responsibility is to check each app that is released on the store. Yes, some malware can still go unnoticed. But, the chances of it happening are comparatively lower. If the app you want is not in the two stores, and you truly trust the company behind the app, make sure to download it from the official website.
Understand the fine prints/permissions
Each app tells you about the terms and conditions of downloading the app. Some may even ask you for further provide them with access. Make sure you understand what kind of information you are giving them access to. For instance, if an app is asking for access to your location, are you sure you want to provide this personal information? If not, it is best to avoid such apps. Don’t just click “I agree” before understanding what is written in the fine print.
These are just a few of the many ways you can stay safe when downloading apps. You might have noticed that scams and data breaches are becoming more and more common now. This is because as technology is progressing, hackers and scammers are getting refined as well. It is crucial now to stay cautious and alert of what you are downloading.
Do your research. Ensure you understand the risks involved before you press the download button.
About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs.