It’s easier than ever to download apps onto your mobile devices. Unfortunately, it’s also become more likely that you could encounter malware along the way.
In the first half of 2020, the number of malware variants exceeded 28 million.
With so many different threats out there, how can you be sure your app download is secure?
Let’s dive into the primary questions and answers you’ll need to determine the safety of an app download.
What is malware?
This software is designed for one thing: disrupt and destroy. A malware infection can authorize access to hackers and potentially infect your entire device. The most common form, making up 42% of malware globally, is adware. This software spams your device with ads, many of which lead to more malware downloads.
How do I make sure an app is secure?
Before doing anything, you can make a few background checks on suspicious app downloads. To check an app’s authenticity, research the following:
- User ratings: Disgruntled past users will be sure to leave warnings for future victims. Pay attention to any negative reviews to avoid the same situation.
- App permissions: What permissions does the app require? If it’s a camera app, it shouldn’t require access to your phone logs and contacts.
- Icons and images: Scammers often create copycat apps to confuse users. Check for low-resolution images or alterations to ensure the app is legitimate.
These first observations are crucial and should become a natural process you take before any app downloads.
Can your phone get hacked by downloading an app?
To put it simply, yes. Even legitimate, renowned apps can become corrupted from an unsecured back-end. Malicious or infected apps will often install malware or other viruses on your device.
Apps for added security
While first impressions can tell a lot about an app, well-thought-out scams will appear perfectly safe on the outside. It’s only once you’ve downloaded it that you discover its malicious intentions.
Luckily, there are plenty of cybersecurity apps that can protect you. The most common types of cybersecurity apps are:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN): Encrypt your browsing data and IP address with a simple VPN setup download.
- Antivirus: Consider a paid antivirus service, as it’s been found that 47% of free antivirus apps fail to detect even simple malware.
- Password managers: Back up your passwords so you’ll never forget them. Also, you’ll be able to set a unique password for every account you own.
- Breach detection: These services notify you if your private details are ever included in a data breach.
When we talk about apps for cybersecurity, the list goes on. Find what works for you and add as many layers of protection as you see fit.
Source: Kenny Eliason
Which app store is safe?
There are countless app stores on the internet these days. Some offer vintage emulator games and banned or modified apps. The appeal of exclusive games that your friends don’t have might make you want to use these sites – just proceed with caution.
Registered, large-scale app stores like iTunes and Google Play are safe harbors for secure apps. For example, Google’s Play Protect automatically scans all outgoing apps and your device for viruses.
To ensure you only download from safe stores, avoid jailbreaking or rooting your device. Any downloads you make from unofficial app stores will be at your own risk.
The importance of staying updated
As mentioned, even legitimate apps can become corrupted by hackers. How are you supposed to stay safe when even popular apps are being hacked? The answer lies in your “uninstalled updates” list.
As software ages, hackers become aware of security vulnerabilities on the back end. Luckily for you, most developers patch these concerns before they can affect you. The problem is, those new protections are in the updates.
This applies to every single program you use. If you’re slack on updating your software, you put yourself at risk of infection.
Downloading apps safely and securely is a walk in the park – as long as you know where you’re going.
Avoid scams and viruses by following the guidelines listed above, and make sure your mobile data is never compromised.