DM Seminar: Privacy and Security: Apps

Written and Media by Kelsey Neier.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Whenever we download an app from the Google Play store, App store, or Facebook we are asked if the app can have control over some of our personal information. Some apps will request access to your location, camera and photos. Other apps might ask for a bit more personal information such as your contacts, phone number, or credit card information. It is important to know which apps are safe, and which ones could be malicious with viruses or malware. There are a couple of different ways to tell if an app is safe or not:

  1. Read the reviews

We could easily avoid a lot of malicious apps if we simply read what other people have said about them. It is pretty easy to tell if an app is reliable based on the customer reviews and ratings. If an app has perfect ratings with only great reviews then you can assume that the reviews may be untrustworthy along with the app. You can also ask your friends or family members about the application you are wanting to download to get input from people you trust. It is important to make sure you download an application that you can trust.

Facebook has some mixed reviews. Could it be because it is wanting all of our personal information? Source: Kelsey Neier
Facebook has some mixed reviews. Could it be because it is wanting too much of our personal information? Source: Kelsey Neier
  1. Do your research

It is obviously never a good idea to blindly download an application without looking into it. The chances of you downloading a virus or bug onto your phone are much greater than if you had done your research first. A good rule of thumb is to find out who the developers of the app are and see if they are legit. It is usually a good sign if the developers have created other applications that you can see what other people have said. You should be leery of first time developers who do not have any prior ratings or reviews. It is important to know the people behind the app to help determine if the app is coming from a safe source.


  1. Download Security Software

For a sometimes hefty price, you can download expensive security software onto your phone such as Norton Mobile Security. There are some apps out there that you can download for free like 360 Security. Engadget, TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Android Authority are all good websites to find out information on useful security applications to download. You want to make sure that you are constantly updating your software and making sure that you are on safe websites on your mobile phone. It is a good idea to have some sort of safe software to check the applications you install so that any attacks can be quickly prevented.

Norton will keep your phone safe. Source:
  1. Read the App’s Permissions

You do not want to grant access to a game on your phone without quickly looking over where the application is wanting that information from. If you are downloading a running or fitness application then it would make sense for the app to want to know where your location is using your GPS. However, if an app like this wanted your social security number or phone number, that is a big red flag. Use common sense when reading what information the application is wanting, and decide if granting access would make sense based on the app you are downloading.
In conclusion, there are many ways to safely download an application and prevent any worms or viruses from stealing your credit card information or deleting all of your photos. There are many different steps that I have listed to help prevent this. Do not let a questionable application start downloading on your phone if you are suspicious of its intent.

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