How Safe Are Mobile Phone Apps?

Thousands of mobile phone apps are uploaded to Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore on a daily basis. There seems to be an app for every occasion or instance that you may think of, but beware what you download ...

Apps are essentially the mobile phone equivalent, and an 'always on' variant, of what you would view on a website. For example, on your smartphone, you don't need to login to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn apps, whereas, if you log into any of those platforms on your PC, laptop or Mac, you will need to authenticate each time as people tend to sign out when closing down these devices.

"A point to note is that apps are usually a watered-down version of the full websites and you cannot always access certain functions as you can via a web browser!"

But did you know that apps are increasingly used to hack into your smart device to harvest your personal data? Fake apps are being developed daily and disguised as banking, financial, cryptocurrency, gaming and online dating and contain real links to fool the user into thinking that the app is legitimate.

The malware distributed to your smart device deploys viruses to read, collect and transmit your personal data from other applications, giving hackers more leverage to commit identity theft.

In a recent scam during the worldwide pandemic crisis, a dating app was used to lure victims into trading in bogus cryptocurrency. However, all the links pointed to a legitimate company based in Hong Kong. Once the trading app was downloaded by the victim (lured by the hacker, via the dating app), and a few trades made using the victim's money, the account would be blocked and monies not retrievable by the victim, only the hacker.

As far back as 2014, a leading cybersecurity software company discovered a staggering 890,482 apps from different sources. Proving to be more than just copycats, fake apps were said to be high-risk apps or malware. Among the discovered fake apps, 59,185 had aggressive adware while 394,263 were flagged as malware.

Google and Apple have a hard job keeping track of fake and malicious apps and do try and circumvent downloads by deleting the apps as quickly as discovered. Unfortunately, it is not an easy task and can take weeks or months to discover and remove these fake apps.

One way to keep an eye on your smart device is, in the same ways as you protect your desktop PC, laptop or Mac is by having antivirus or security software on your device. In many cases, the main security software includes a link for your smart device, especially if the security suite software is a full-service package.

Personally, my emails are scanned by Trend Micro security before reaching the Outlook app on my Android mobile (and Outlook on my laptop) and the same license is a full PC and mobile antivirus, antimalware application so all my devices are covered.

"If you are a larger organisation, I would also recommend Mobile Device Management software (MDM) such as Soti or Airwatch!"

My personal preference is the former. If would like further information on protecting your devices, speak to your IT department or outsourced company OR your mobile provider or contact me for further information.

If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.