Malicious apps pave the way for attacks ranging from unwanted pop-up ads to more serious efforts to steal personal and financial data, or lock your files and demand a ransom for the key that allows you to regain access to them.
Before downloading a new app, take the time to do some online research:
- Check out the reviews from others about the name of the app or its developer?
- Search for the web page of the developer. Lack of details about the developer, with links that go to legitimate sites instead, can be a red flag.
- You may be able to see inconsistencies between the product and service offerings compared to what is on the business’ official website.
- Look at comments from when the app was launched. Reviews in quick succession of launch are sometimes a warning it’s fake.
You should also:
- Avoid installing apps from links in emails, social media, text messages and websites that look suspicious.
- Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new applications and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
- Read the fine print about how an app will protect your personal data—some apps collect information such as your location, contacts, and other sensitive details like credentials. At the end of the day, if you are not comfortable with how your data is protected, don’t use the app!
- Make sure you review and manage permissions for each app you download. On an iOS device go to 'Settings > Privacy'. On an Android device go to 'Application Manager' and follow the prompts.
- If the permissions required by the app seem excessive compared with what activities you’ll be using the app for, it may be a sign that it’s not a trustworthy app.
- Do not remove hardware restrictions—known as ‘jailbreaking’ on Apple phones and ‘rooting’ on Android phones—to install unapproved third party apps. This makes your phone more vulnerable to malware as it reduces the in-built security protection.
- Uninstall apps when you no longer need them.
- If you suspect a fake app impersonating a trusted brand is available on an app store, contact the organisation that the app claims to be from, through contact details sourced from an official website.
For further information on Online Apps see here: https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/protect-yourself/protect-your-stuff/online-apps