One bad app spoils the barrel (and your privacy too)

Today there is an app for just about anything. From dating apps to apps that navigate you around cities, nowadays there is something for everyone. In fact Apple’s App Store reportedly now has over 1.3 million apps available to download to make consumers’ lives that much easier whilst on the go.

In short, apps allow us to get the information we want, when we want it and the ease that comes with this capability is what makes us not think twice about pressing the download button. But by doing so, do we actually take the time to think about the information hungry cyber criminals out there? The only difference is that the information they want isn’t a review of that new restaurant in town but rather the information you use to pay for that meal.

With mobile malware on the rise, it’s time we became more aware of our app safety. It just takes one bad app to open the door for cyber criminals to steal your precious data. Worryingly, a recent McAfee Labs™ Threats Report found when testing 25 of the most downloaded apps, 18 failed the security test and they failed the test four months after their developers had been notified of the vulnerabilities. In addition, another report revealed that 82% of mobile apps are able to track you, and malicious software was found in 35% of these privacy intrusive apps. And in most cases, consumers are unknowingly downloading this malware onto their devices.

When Intel Security surveyed UK and German mobile users on their security habits we found that over two thirds of respondents do not read the terms and conditions when downloading an app onto their phone. Their reasons for not doing so were that they did not care about the terms and conditions or permissions. They want the app regardless and people seem to always trust official app stores.

But whilst these trusted app stores do make the efforts to ensure malware-laden apps are kept off their shelves, it still occurs. There are also many untrusted app stores whose apps frequently contain malware.

So what can you do to keep the bad apps off of your phone or tablet? Here are my top three tips:

  1. Review what your apps are up to. Read reviews and check app permissions before downloading. Use security software to run a scan of app permissions to help identify suspicious requests. Does that cooking app really need your location details? Think twice before clicking ‘yes’.
  2. Regularly update your apps. It might be tedious but updates often have security patches that protect your information and your device from the latest malware.
  3. Protect your devices. McAfee LiveSafe™ service keeps hackers and identity thieves at bay and allows you to safely surf, shop, search, and bank online so you’re not at risk of having your data stolen. The more precautions you take to ensure your device is protected, the better.