A locked phone might seem secure but having a passcode, pattern, face ID or fingerprint scanner is not the best line of defense. You might be protecting your phone from thieves but what about the apps that are compromising your privacy?
Did you know the apps on your phone could be gathering your geolocation data and other phone identifiers without your knowledge? It sounds creepy but it’s happening. These apps could be stealing your passwords, photos and other PI (Personal Information). So far, there is no way to tell if an app is tracking you. But you can take preventive measures to keep your information from being compromised. Start with these:
1: Use a VPN to Public Wi-Fi
Whenever you find a free public network, you would like to turn off your mobile data, right? I do that so many times myself. I have subscribed to Spectrum Internet and whenever I find a spectrum hotspot nearby, I immediately switch to it. Experts suggest before you do that, you must use a VPN. It keeps your data from being snooped on. Your data transmission is masked. Additionally, you are able to access a wide variety of content even the sites that are blocked in your country.
Download a trusted VPN app. However, first, read their service agreement to be certain of what data is being collected and where it is stored.
2: Check the App Permissions
This is a tip every smartphone user must hold onto. Experts suggest double checking app permissions instead of blindly accepting everything that comes your way.
Ask yourself if it makes sense for an app to seek permission. If the app is asking to access data that isn’t relevant to its function, that’s a red flag. Let’s say you are downloading a calculator app and it’s requesting to access your contact list and location, stop right there.
Other than this, pay attention to the permission that you grant to an app. Also, monitor how your phone behaves after you have downloaded the app. If your device’s battery life is affected drastically, it’s a sign you are dealing with a malicious app.
3: Use a Password Manager
This cannot be stressed enough, the passwords for the apps you use must be strong. A combination of letters, numbers, and symbols is what you need. I hear you, complex passwords are harder to remember. There is a solution for that. Use a password manager.
A password manager will keep all your passwords in one place. They will be encrypted. Some password managers also help generate strong passwords. Just be sure you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Why? Because if one account is hacked, the attacker can target other accounts as well.
4: Due Diligence Before Downloading an App
From the face of the app, it is hard to tell if it has sinister motives. By doing a quick Google search, you can gather enough information to make the right decision. Experts say in the search bar, write the name of the app and the phrase scam or data scandal. This will reveal everything you need to know related to privacy or data leak issues.
This research will also tell if data breaches are common with that company. And if they had been affected by it, how did they tackle the problem. Avoid those apps that have been developed by developers who have a history of creating shady apps.
5: Limit Social Media Exposure
After the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, social media networks are in hot waters, especially Facebook. And if you were a victim of the data breach, you could be at the risk of a privacy breach. A hacker could have developed a shadow profile on the basis of your likes, shares, and following.
Keeping that in mind, it’s advised to share limited information on social media. This is for those too who were safe from the attack. Fill out minimum information on your social media profiles only.
The social apps that access your phone’s microphones and gallery are the ones you must be extra cautious about.
6: Keep Software Up To Date
A very crucial line of defense against malicious apps is keeping your operating system up to date. When you do that, you are fortifying the security of your smartphone. It’s best to set your phone on automatic updates.
Just like you would update the OS, update the apps you use on a daily basis as well. Check the app store to find updates. This would fix the previous security patches and now, the app will be more secure than ever.
In addition to these tips, check how long the app has been available. Check the reviews and ratings as well. Don’t even download the app from a third-party source. When I wanted to download the Spectrum TV app, I downloaded it from Google play store even know I came across some third-party sites. I called Spectrum support and they also suggested downloading it from an authorized source.