App Security

It’s Not All About Malware

We’ve talked before about the ability malware has to infect your phone. But it’s not always about malware.

Malware, for reference, means any software with malicious intent. This does include ransomware, but also includes code with the ability to record keystrokes or simply saddle you with something that breaks your device. It’s less common than the ransomware we see now, but it’s still out there.

While some apps in the Google Play store have been found to have malware, many more have been found with security holes on a variety of platforms. That’s a huge problem.

Private Info

We’re talking more about online privacy. The California Consumer Privacy Act, while only law in California, created sweeping national changes last year when it went into effect. We now have more control over what data we allow websites to collect. This, in turn, helps to reduce who can target us based on our demographics.

But apps are still a virtual wild west of sorts. PC Matic CEO, Rob Cheng, has talked before about how important it is to know where your software is coming from. Check out the Cyber Smart episode about software origin below.

PC Matic CEO Rob Cheng

And then really consider the things you (and your kids) are putting on your phone.

Things To Consider

Some of the more obvious warning signs of an app are its capabilities. If it allows you to openly share files and information from your phone, there’s a chance there could be security holes in the code. Personally, I’m always wary of apps with lots of ads.

Not only are ads annoying, but they just feel a little sketchy; like walking down a dark alley at night. It may be perfectly fine, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. And do you really need them?

Additionally, apps that use a lot of ads are obviously displaying them as a revenue source. If they’re inundating you with that many ads for revenue, are they also likely to sell any information they can gather? I’m not saying they do, but it sounds logical.

Finally, do an internet search. If you’re unsure about the app, type in “has APP NAME been found with security issues?” Nothing may come up. Or something may come up. But the extra few seconds it takes to check isn’t a big deal.

So Much Info

The amount of data and information we store on our phones is significant. From our health care information and emergency contacts to meta tagged pictures of our family and friends, there’s a whole world on our phones. Forgoing a cheap or sketchy looking app for a little extra piece of mind isn’t a bad thing.

Let us know in the comments or on our social channels about any apps you’ve downloaded that later turned out to be sketchy. Or tell us about how you determine which apps are worth the download. And, as always, stay safe out there.

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