One of the most significant changes to our “Life Workflow,” as many experts pen it, is the use of apps. For nearly anything you can imagine, there is an app that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. Not sleeping well? Download an app and get more insight into your sleep patterns, such as average sleep time, restlessness, and trend analysis. Flying into a new airport? Download an app that will show you in-terminal navigation to your connecting flight and food options on the way. Need to track your kids’ basketball team? Download an app that can manage schedules, stats, and fees. For many of us, this is the first place we turn when looking to do something new. Think about it—just ten years ago, you would need to actually install software into your computer’s operating system, or rely on a search engine that is only as effective as your own personal search skills! Now, there are millions of apps for nearly anything you may need.
With that being said, both Apple and Google do a very good job of filtering out the junk. However, last year alone, researchers learned of at least eight apps that were eavesdropping on your life when you weren’t actively using the app! Yikes! In a future post, you’ll learn more about your Alexa, Siri, and Google smart speakers that may make your skin crawl.
Here are a few tips for being safe with the apps you download:
- ALWAYS keep your operating system current! This is the #1 way to protect your device.
- Always read the reviews (and also give reviews)
- Be sure to sort your reviews by most recent. What are the latest updates and feedback?
- Ignore any reviews without written text—they are often fake.
- Research the Publisher information. Many publishers you cannot find on the internet, which is a bad sign.
- If you read of complaints of the app behaving unexpectedly, avoid it!
- Be mindful of the access the app is requesting. If you have a cooking app that wants to access your location or microphone, consider not allowing.
- Be wary of apps that often provide error messages or request access or passwords. Uninstall immediately.
As you all know by now—security is not guaranteed. But by following the best practices with your smart devices, you stand a chance to remain secure. App fraud comes in many different forms, but ultimately the goal is the same—either steal $$ or steal personal information.