How Safe Is That App? Mobile Security Expert Tips To Help Protect Your Mobile Device.
Mobile apps have transformed the way we interact with our smartphones and tablets. If you’re looking for a quick way to access your bank accounts, a tool to make you more productive while on the move, or a game to help pass the time while you’re waiting for a bus, there’s an app for that.
In fact, with over 1 million apps on Google Play, for instance, there are often thousands of options to choose from in each app category. The fact that many can be downloaded in a matter of seconds means that you’re only ever moments away from installing a tool that could bring innovative new functionality to your mobile device.
However, the simplicity of the download process can also be your worst enemy. Have you ever stopped to consider what dangers may be lurking within that free app? Many apps have been developed by unscrupulous minds intent on a range of activities that could put you at risk - from stealing your identity to capturing your bank account details.
A little extra caution can go a long way to help you stay protected. As Con Mallon, Senior Director – Consumer Mobile Product Management at Symantec, points out below in his three top tips for app security and says that there are a number of telltale signs on Google Play designed to provide transparency about an app’s credentials.
Three top tips for app security
- Take time to read the reviews of apps in the app store – the rating of the app can and will tell you something.
- Look at when the app was published – how do you feel about using a brand new app or one that is used by few people? How does that fit with your tolerance for risk?
- Don’t hit the ‘install’ button too quickly. For Android apps, you will be presented with a list of ‘permissions’ that the app developer is requesting for the app. If a lot of permissions are being asked for, take a minute to think, do you think that the app really needs all of this?
Mallon also points out that additional tools are available to help you decide which apps you can trust.
“All of the above takes time and some knowledge and if you don’t feel comfortable in doing this, you may benefit from a little help,” said Mallon. “What you need is some advice on the privacy and performance implications when you are looking at apps in the app store and before you download them. Norton Spot can do this for you if you are an Android user using Google Play.”
Available for Android devices, Norton Spot scans apps before you download them, watching out for signs that it may be insecure. For example, it can warn you that an app will leak your personal information, excessively use your battery or have annoying, intrusive behavior.
With this tool in place, you can decide which apps to trust before you install them.