Smartphone apps make life easier, more productive, and more entertaining. But can you trust every app you come across? Malicious mobile apps create easy access to your devices for Android and iOS malware to wreak havoc. And there are many untrusted and potentially dangerous apps lurking around in app stores determined to outsmart your smartphone. With the average user having 35 apps installed on their phone, according to Google, it’s easy to see why smartphones can be such a easy target.
But my iPhone is safe, right?
Both Apple iOS and Android devices are targeted by hackers, and while the latter is a more popular target, both platforms are both susceptible to various types of cyberattacks. After all, Apple’s latest version of iOS 11 was cracked just one day after its release via vulnerabilities in the Safari web browser, according to ZDNet.
Protect yourself from bad apps:
All of this means that unprotected smartphones are soft targets for cybercriminals, with weaknesses that hackers can ultimately exploit to generate revenue. The first defense is knowing that you can’t trust all apps. These tips will also help you stay protected as you search for the good ones:
- Download apps from reputable stores. The major, reliable providers are Galaxy Apps (Samsung), the App Store (iOS), Amazon App Store, and Google Play (Android).
Google Play, for example, scans 50 billion apps daily to detect malware before publishing new ones.
- Disable “Unknown Sources” for Android devices, which prevents installing apps from sources other than the Google Play Store. So, if you use Amazon App Store, you’ll need to enable “Unknown Sources”. In that case, be mindful before allowing any other app or website to install something on your phone. It should also be noted that changes to this functionality are coming with the latest update to Android’s Oreo operating system.
- Keep Android USB debugging off. It can prevent outside malware from accessing your phone through corded connections, such as from a public charging station.
- Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. Allowing access and changes to your phone’s software can allows outsider apps that may not be trustworthy.
- Beware of any website, text, email, or anything asking you to install an app. Search for your own apps at the store and research all apps before installing.
- Beware of granting excessive permissions. Apps that perform basic functions, such as a flashlight, don’t need to access your personal information, for example.
- Read app reviews before installing, and review and report sinister apps. Users working together as a community can help alert unsuspecting victims to phony apps.
- Be cautious about providing your credit card or banking information. Avoid making transactions over apps that are not well known to you or the user community and be careful about hidden charges such as microtransactions.
- Install OS and other software updates. It always recommended to keep your OS and apps updated with the latest patches. It’s also smart to consider phones from vendors that release prompt security patches. Many software updates are designed to defend against malware and other emergent threats.
- Use trusted internet security software. No matter how careful you are, it is wise to employ a reputable layer of online security.
Prevention, prevention, prevention.
Sometimes free mobile apps, including free security software apps from unknown providers, are suspect. The convenience of a quick download and excessive trust are not worth saving a few seconds or cents. Do your research, follow these 10 tips, and protect your well-being on any mobile device.