It is a story that we hear every second day about how popular mobile apps are in due conduct of privacy-related issues. Well, this goes without saying how dangerous it puts the users at risk.
New year often calls for new resolutions. We all have our set of oaths ready to either inhabit a change or abandon a trait. For mobile application creators, it is a slightly off-track story where they claim to have the best interest and preference of people in their hearts.
Let’s put it this way – you sure know the privacy issues that Facebook and Google are dealing with, sadly even WhatsApp now for that matter. But have you wondered about the effects and the privacy issues that your mobile device is potentially going through because of a handful of mobile apps?
Permissions that need your Attention!
Point that you need to register: Giving permission to Android apps eventually ends up giving control of your phone and to its content as well. Therefore, let’s walk through how to ensure safety and stay within control when using such apps.
Every time we try to install an app from an App Store, an app permission request is our first encounter. Usually, it is asking permission to control sensitive data. Hence, not only should you be alert about the apps you download from Play Store, but should also be prudent about the permissions they are asking you for.
There are three types of permissions: -
- Normal – No risk of user privacy
- Signature - unique permission granted by android to an app
- Dangerous–Involves user data
Bid Adieu to the ‘Dangerous’ Permissions
We should indeed be concerned about issues that tend to hijack our privacy and security. There are mainly nine permission groups that request access. The way these groups function is peculiar. There are many permission levels in each group, thus, granting single permission automatically sends off an alert to all the other permission in the same group.
Here are the permissions that you definitely need to look out for:-
This gives permission to use your microphone and record audio.
If you use Spotify, you can listen to the music of your choice by identifying the song. Alternatively, if microphone is enabled for WhatsApp, you can send voice messages directly to your boon companion.
However, the downside would be, a spiteful app that records the surroundings and discussion you are having around. Furthermore, can also intrude to record your business meetings and conferences.
Apps can access the exact location using GPS – Global Positioning System and by adjusting to other sources like Wi-Fi. Developers are most likely to use these apps to extract profit from the ads that relate to locations.
However, malicious apps can parallelly use these to load attacks based on locations. Some of the common apps that use it are check-in apps, location apps, and so on.
Contacts permission allows an app to read the data from the contact list on your phone.
This permission is usually taken by messaging or calling apps such as Whatsapp, Skype, etc. It can also be taken by other apps to elongate their marketing list that they can advertise to.
Looking at the dangerous side, it can overwrite or edit the contacts. So, wonder what happens if your mortgage brokers’ number is changed to another and you end up calling and sharing all your financial data or information with a probable scammer. In addition, the contact list can also add to phish your friends and message them indicating it’s you.
This enables apps to read SMS texts.
One of the great ways to eavesdrop on your personal information is by reading your text messages. Alternatively, some apps can breach this and even send SMS messages from your device.
Malicious apps reading your SMS can even get access to your OTP messages and steal your money.
Camera apps usually allow taking pictures and recording videos. These apps can secretly do so if given the permission of the kind.
You should be conscious while granting camera permissions as some malicious apps are capable of recording and saving your activities.
- Phone calls
With these apps, it becomes easy to locate your phone number and information related to your cellular network that you are currently using.
These applications can also make calls, receive them, edit your logs, add some content to voicemail, and even find out who is your caller. Therefore, some malicious apps can also spy on your phone and on the calls you make.
These apps give permission to users to be able to read/write directly on your internal or external storage.
Let’s address both side of the story, a music application will help you download songs directly on your device. However, if a malicious app intrudes, it can secretly change, read, delete any data/files that you currently have saved in your device.
Tips for you Privacy Protection
Basically, it all starts off when you understand the context of the permissions. It is significant to actually intercept what you want the app to do for you.
One of the most common OS is Android, and hence, to be sure of threats and cybercriminals trying to pull advantage shouldn’t be a shocker. However, when certain aspects are addressed carefully, even these risky permissions could be gotten rid of.
If you already are thinking, then below is the answer to ‘How to protect your privacy’?
- Apps and Caution must go hand-in-hand: Downloading apps is equivalent to welcome malware in your device. Therefore, always download Apps via trusted sources like Google Play Store as they scan each and every app before you download them on your device. Well, unknowingly you may end up opening a Pandora’s Box whilst you get tempted by a third-party app.
- Sending Email to the Developer: You may directly contact the developer of the application if you have queries that concerns ‘permissions.’ If the reply doesn’t convince you, avoid using the app.
- Google Play to the Rescue: One of the best ways to know risky permissions before you install them on your phone is to know about them beforehand. Google Play does the needful for you. Check the details and description section on Google Play to know about all the Permissions that the app will require.
- Know permissions of apps on your phone: Easiest way to know the dangerous permissions taken by apps that are downloaded on your phone is to download a tool with privacy scan such as FinLock app. It shows the risk level of apps on your android phone based on the different privacy permissions requested by them. Through FinLock, you can choose to change those permissions or delete the app. FinLock also alerts you when there is an app that is running in the background without your knowledge or you are trying to download an app that can record your screen. These apps can be misused by fraudsters to steal your passwords, PINs and OTPs.
Additionally, keeps you off the hook since you now know the permissions you are welcoming along with the application.
The modern world is tricky. Hence, it obvious to ignore a lot of things and especially ‘Android Permissions.’ Well, the considerable ignorance primarily happens because we never see these ‘Android Permissions’ as threats.
Therefore, make a wise pick and always remember to learn more about the permission before you end up granting them.