You sooo want those addictive, funny apps. And when you have a craving for a new one, your index finger itching to tap into a new, compelling app universe, you throw caution to the wind. You’re ready to download anything, and – yes, let’s be honest - security measures is the last thing you want to spend time considering.
But app land is a jungle, and not everything is what it seems. Cybercriminals are working round the clock to create illegitimate, malware-infested apps for you to download. When you do, you basically hand over control of all the content on your phone to the bad guys – including bank details, contact information, passwords and anything else you’re storing on there.
I’ve asked BullGuard’s mobile security experts to give out a few tips on how you can make sure, an app is legitimate and doesn’t put you or your phone at risk.
Here’s their advice:
- Only download applications from the platform’s official app store: Android Market, App World (Blackberry), Ovi Store (Symbian) or Apple Store
Avoid 3rd party app repositories at all costs where there is little or no control over what gets published there. Spam e-mails or SMS messages with links to download apps represent a security risk as well.
- Read the reviews
All app stores display reviews for the software available for download. Pay attention to what other people say and take some time to sift through the reviews: if there are several pages of reviews, make sure to go through some of them randomly. Even if the app is legit, reading reviews can also tell you whether the software may cause issues on the device.
When sifting through pages and pages of free apps, a healthy dose of scepticism is required and going with a “guilty until proven otherwise” mentality will go a long way to keep malware off of your smartphone.
- It is vital to read what permission and resource access the application requires on your phone, particularly on permission based mobile platforms such as Android, Blackberry or iOS. Smartphone owners need to look at the app’s advertised features and compare those features to the list of permissions and resource access the software asks for. For example, it does not make any sense for small, entertaining games to have access to the contacts list and messages, or to send text messages to random numbers or being allowed to delete files from the device.
You can easily identify discrepancies between advertised features, and what the application will really do on the smartphone.
- Do nor jailbreak or root the phone.
For iOS device owners, it may be nice to be able to install applications that do not necessarily come from Apple’s App Store, but what the jailbreaking process does, is simply strip the iPhone of all security layers leaving the owner defenceless against malware or hacking attempts. A similar situation is presented to Android users that root their device; when this happens, installed apps will have access to the entire device and features.
- Install a mobile security suite and keep the operating system up-to-date.
While security products provide protection against malware, keeping the phone’s operating system up to date will ensure that security flaws or holes through which malware can crawl on the device get patched.
What do you do to avoid malicious apps? Be honest, now … even if the answer is “nothing”!