Whilst smartphones are not quite as big a target for viruses and malware like desktop PCs are, there are still some cyber threats that have been discovered, and some may be hiding on your phone right now.
When an app is installed to your device, it will require a certain set of permissions.
For example, an online game may need to access your WiFi, whilst a new dialer app may request permissions to your contact list. For iOS devices, most apps go through a strict system that stops most malicious apps ever reaching the app store, however with Android, things are different.
There are threats on the iOS app store, but they are far and few between – so long as you are installing apps from the official iOS app store, you should be in the clear, although if you are concerned about some apps, it’s best to contact Apple about it.
For Android, it’s a different story. It’s not just unknown apps that can get through the Android system, either. In some cases, popular apps are filled with potential threats.
Watch Out for The Flashlight Apps
As an example, a recent flashlight app, which had millions of downloads, was filled with all sorts of strange permissions requests including full file access and even access to call and text history.
Because these permissions are required for you to install the app, it means that there is no way to avoid these permissions if you want to use the mobile application.
Truthfully, an app such as the flashlight in question does need any of these permissions at all, so why has it requested such permissions? Being smart about what apps you install from the app store will keep you safe from these kinds of threats, and potentially avoid you from losing any important data to malicious software.
When you next install an app from the Google Play store, make sure to check what permissions are needed before accepting an install, and after looking at any permissions, read through the app store page to see why an app may need a certain permission.
If there seems to be some kind of app permissions you don’t feel comfortable about, a bit of extra care and research will help you to avoid any dangers.
Unfortunately, malicious attempts will always be made to try and take advantage of software flaws, and this is one issue that cannot be worked around unless awareness is improved. Google have recently made a few changes to their app store to make it easier for smartphone owners to understand what different permissions do, and these can now be found within each app store listing for every app on the Google Play store.
In summary, there are potential cyber threats hidden within the app store, but with some research you can understand these. The primary area to be cautious of is the app permissions for each application – these will appear when you start to download an app, and also on the app store page of the corresponding app.
If anything ever were to happen have you backed up your phone?
If not, read our – 10 Reasons to Backup Your Phone