Apps, Are They Safe or Sneaky?
It’s estimated that the average consumer spends about three hours a day on their Smartphone, more if you’re a teen, using native apps. Go anywhere and you’ll see people glued to their mobile devices. Whether they’re checking their social media, horoscope, gaming, or reading, they’re probably using an app.
Most people have approximately five apps, and the type of apps varies from person to person. But then, you get the app junkies. These are people who get mesmerized with the latest, cutest, and coolest apps that come out. Some have 20+ apps. With over 4 million apps available, we can connect with any person, program, or company with a touch. Why do we love apps? Because they provide convenience, entertainment and we can hook up with our friends very quickly. Of course, we could live without apps, but most would rather not. But, are there consequences to using so many apps? Are all apps safe?
*record all conversations
*use your camera to take pictures
Who could be spying on you; Identity thieves, advertisers, or maybe the government? Listen up!
What may seem to be an ordinary or free app, like a game, for instance, may startle you when you learn what comes with this app. There is no such thing as a free app, you’re paying for it with your data. An app can access anything. It can turn on the audio to listen to your private conversations and record them even if you’re not using the phone. It can turn on the front or back of your camera to take videos and pictures. Surprised, I was. With an instant download, they have access to your private life. They can be invasive and dig deep into your personal life and you and none the wiser.
What do these cyber pirates do with your information? They’re in it for profit. They collect more data than they need and sell it to a 3rd party like an advertising network. And these companies use your information to their best advantage.
You can decide what the apps have access to. Take control!
So how do you prevent hackers from getting a sneak peek into your life? Your app manager is where you can control what information you are giving out. Tap on your app and you’ll see what data you are offering free for the picking. Here you have the option to turn your camera, mic, photos, etc, off. I checked my Instagram app and they had access to my camera, photos, and microphone. But, I was able to turn them off easily.
Another thing to consider is if you have several apps that you are no longer using, it’s best to remove them because they could still be collecting your data.
Tips and Advice
Unless you really know what you’re doing, you should never install apps that don’t come from the Google app store or the Apple app store. They work diligently to keep shady apps out. Apps from an unreliable source will require you to disable security settings that are there to protect you and your data from companies just like them.
Turn off your wifi and Bluetooth because companies can use these signals to track you and your phone even if you’re not connected to their network. If you’re out and about, try to avoid open wireless networks. They may be free for anyone to use, but they can also be abused.
If you do need to use a public wifi network, consider using a VPN – Virtual Private Network. It will protect your connection from nearby snoops from watching what you browse and other activities you do online.
Just like we wouldn’t click on a strange link in our email, don’t do it on your phone. Instant and text messages will try to get you to click on their links and can even be disguised as coming from family or friends. Be tech-smart about the links and attachments you open, even if you know who they are from.
Go now and update your apps on all your electronic devices!