How to Protect Your Privacy From “Leaky” Apps

Back in 2010, The Wall Street Journal was already warning us about app developers’ lack of transparency with regard to their intentions.

“An examination of 101 popular smartphone “apps”—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders. The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them.”

And since then, our level of engagement with mobile apps has only increased (with over 10 billion apps downloaded), while there has not been a lot of movement to prevent applications from accessing your data.

So what to do? Privacy concerns are justified, but there is a limit to what how this information can be utilized. If you feel the urge to free yourself from data tracking, you could delete and avoid apps, or you could provide false information, but that could violate terms of service and might not be effective, anyway.

When downloading an application, make an effort to consider what you are giving up and what you are getting in return, and to consciously decide whether that particular tradeoff is worthwhile.

You can also use mobile security software like McAfee Mobile Security that scans your installed apps to determine the level of access being granted to each of them. This feature then alerts you to apps that may be quietly siphoning data and enjoying unnecessarily extensive control of device’s functionality and then you can decide if you want to keep the app or delete it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With better insight, you can take more your mobile security and privacy into your own hands.

 

 

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. See him discussing identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

The post How to Protect Your Privacy From “Leaky” Apps appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

QR Codes Could Deliver Malware

You’ve seen barcodes all your life. So you know what they look like: rectangles “boxes” comprised of a series of vertical lines. When a cashier scans a barcode, you hear a familiar beep and you are charged for that item.

A QR code looks different and offers more functionality. QR stands for “quick response.” Smartphones can download QR readers that use the phone’s built-in camera to read these codes. When the QR code reader application is open and the camera detects a QR code, the application beeps and asks you what you want to do next.

Today we see QR codes appearing in magazine advertisements and articles, on signs and billboards; anywhere a mobile marketer wants to allow information to be captured, whether in print or in public spaces, and facilitate digital interaction. Pretty much anyone can create a QR codes.

Unfortunately, that’s where the cybercriminals come in. While QR codes make it easy to connect with legitimate online properties, they also make it easy for hackers to distribute malware.

QR code infections are relatively new. A QR scam works because, as with a shortened URL, the link destination is obscured by the link itself. Once scanned, a QR code may link to an malicious website or download an unwanted application or mobile virus.

Here’s some ways to protect yourself from falling victim to malicious QR codes:

 

  • Be suspicious of QR codes that offer no context explaining them. Malicious codes often appear with little or no text.
  • If you arrive on a website via a QR code, never provide your personal or log in information since it could be a phishing attempt.
  • Use a QR reader that offers you a preview of the URL that you have scanned so that you can see if it looks suspicious before you go there.
  • Use complete mobile device security software, like McAfee® Mobile Security, which includes anti-virus, anti-theft and web and app protection and can warn you of dangerous websites embedded in QR codes.

 

 

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. See him discussing identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

The post QR Codes Could Deliver Malware appeared first on McAfee Blogs.