Smartphones are digital devices that people use to improve their everyday lives. They store a lot of our personal data and information. The apps we download are what make our phones unique to us. We entrust our data to these apps in exchange for their use. But what happens when that trust is violated? In recent years, major apps have been the centre of massive intrusions from hackers and data breaches that have left our private data exposed. Here is how to protect your data from unsecured apps in Malaysia.
How to protect your data from unsecured apps in Malaysia
Keep apps updated.
The easiest thing you can do to protect your smartphone from intrusion is to make sure that the application you’re using is the latest version. Nearly every phone on the market has the ability to constantly check that installed apps are up to date.
While it’s easy to just set up your phone to automatically update apps, sometimes you need to grant it permission to download an update. This usually happens when the download is particularly large, or the app needs special permissions to access parts of your phone.”
Similarly, you should always download and install updates to the phone’s operating system. Not doing so could leave discovered vulnerabilities wide open at the system level.
Pay attention when granting permissions.
When downloading an app, it’s likely you’ve just accepted any and all permissions it requested so you could get it running as soon as possible. Like the end-user agreements that we’re all guilty of paging through without reading, app permissions are very important but most people ignore them.
Experts say blindly accepting app permissions can leave you extra vulnerable, as apps can gain access to your device’s camera, microphone, contact list or other sensitive areas of your phone.
While you’re likely to have lackadaisically granted permissions in the past, the good news is you can go back and fix your mistakes. Depending on the version of Android your device uses, it can be as simple as finding the application manager and changing the privacy settings. Likewise, Apple users can go into the device’s settings, tap Privacy and make changes to any previously granted permissions.
Be careful when using public Wi-Fi.
Free public Wi-Fi can be convenient to have access to when you need it, but you should know the risks going in. Since the Wi-Fi network is open to everybody, there’s no secure way of using the service. With zero encryption, anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can see what everyone is doing.
According to Keeper Security co-founder and CEO Darren Guccione, a public Wi-Fi network can pose major problems for the average user.
“Open access points can be easily impersonated – there is no authentication mechanism to ensure that you’re truly connecting to an airport or coffee shop access point,” he said. “You could be connecting to a hacker’s laptop or mobile device that is impersonating the access point, which gives them full access to all of your network traffic, opening you to man-in-the-middle attacks, which can allow the hacker to steal data and passwords.”
One way to counter this is to use a VPN, or virtual private network. While VPN services charge a monthly fee, they work by obfuscating your traffic on the web. As a result, to someone monitoring traffic on a public Wi-Fi hotspot, what would normally show up as readable data would show up as encrypted data.
Ultimately, the best way to keep your data secure from public Wi-Fi is to not connect to the service at all.
Only install apps from official sources.
In addition to keeping apps updated, it’s important to only download apps from official sources. Whether you have an Android, Apple, or some other kind of mobile device, each has an official app store that requires certain safeguards before an app can be sold on its storefront.
While nearly all phones can let you download and install applications from third-party locations (after you change a few security settings), cybersecurity experts emphatically warn against doing so.
“Applications from unofficial sources do not undergo the verification procedure, and therefore, the chances are much higher than you will encounter malware that can attack programs on the device,” said Leigh-Anne Galloway, a cybersecurity resilience lead at Positive Technologies.
Downloading from the App Store or Google Play Store may be a safe bet most of the time. However, Galloway also cautions against getting complacent, as malicious apps can sometimes slip through the cracks. One way to counter that issue is to pay attention to who made the app in the first place.
“If the developer has created other apps with suspicious names. For example, Wi-Fi Booster, Easy Root or Funny Videos, then it might not be a trustworthy one,” she said. “You can also check reviews of the application online before installation. If you see even one user mentions the app as suspicious, don’t install it.”
Keeping your data safe from unsecured apps may seem like an extra task to accomplish. However, you will thank yourself if you ever get your data leaked.
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