If you have a smartphone, you're probably quite active in downloading free or paid mobile applications that provide access to services, social networking apps, games and more. If you can, you'll probably choose the free mobile app option when given the choice of a paid alternative. It may seem like the smart choice, but is it really?
The Hidden Costs of Free Mobile Apps
Although both paid and free apps have potential security issues, free apps come with greater risks:
- Text message costs - some apps will initiate text messages to premium numbers or will background call foreign numbers; you may wind up with an expensive wireless bill
- Information sharing - many apps will dig into the information on your phone or monitor your online activity
- Contact sharing - although this is part of the information on your phone, you may not realize that many apps can access your contact list (and all details you share there)
- Location sharing - apps may track where you are
- Vulnerabilities - apps may have vulnerabilities that put your mobile at risk
- Malware - some apps contain malware that can steal log-in information or personal data stored on the phone
Valid apps are just as likely to infringe upon your privacy as malicious ones, though the risks from malicious apps are higher—from identity theft, for example.
Avoiding Unexpected Costs from Downloaded Apps
You are ultimately in control when it comes to your phone. Any application you download to your device require your permission, so make sure to exercise caution when downloading new apps.
- If an application asks you for permission to access geographic features, say 'No'
- Download applications only from official app stores (not a guarantee of no risk), not from file-sharing sites
- Read the privacy documentation of the app to see what information it is accessing. Be wary of apps without privacy documentation or ones with suspicious use of permissions.
- Don't unlock or root your device: this leaves it vulnerable to attack
- Bank with authorized apps only (not unauthorized apps or via the browser)
- Stick to popular apps - they are less likely to be malicious
- Download from reputable publishers with multiple apps with many downloads or high ratings
Absolute provides persistent endpoint security and data risk management solutions for computers, tablets, and smartphones. Our customers depend on us to provide them with a unique and trusted layer of security so they can manage mobility while remaining firmly in control. Learn more at Absolute.com