Nowadays, data breaches are happening more and more frequently, and an app you’ve once entrusted to keep your data and privacy safe can put your information at risk of being stolen through malicious hackers using security exploits, or through the developers’ means of using a third-party application to harvest your data. As you download your favorite applications from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, you’ll want to keep these security tips in mind:
- Using a password manager can help keep your accounts secure
Password manager applications are there to assist us when there are many accounts to keep track of. Often times, users rely upon using the same passwords which puts them at risk during massive data breaches. Easy-to-guess passwords like “Password” and “123456” are still among the top worst choices for users’ accounts, and slightly changing passwords to include a symbol or number is not always the best line of defense against hackers guessing your codes.
Using a password that is created by a random string of numbers and letters is assuredly a strong way of protecting your accounts. However, remembering these passwords comes as another issue at hand.
To help store your passwords in a secure and encrypted space, users can take advantage of password manager apps.
- Use a VPN when you use public WiFi
A virtual private network (VPN) can help keep your data secure when on public WiFi. VPNs can secure transactions and keep users anonymous when on the internet, ultimately masking any data transmissions.
When looking for a VPN provider via an app store, make certain you read the app’s data collection policies.
- Be aware of what permissions you grant to applications
Users should always be wary of what information apps ask to gain access to, such as contacts lists, location, and photos. A good form of practice is to always question an app’s request for certain permissions. For instance, if a note-keeping application asks for photo access, users should question the app’s motives in harvesting photo data.
It is also important to take note of any unusual behavior after certain application downloads. If your battery life performance drops or you notice your phone acting slower than usual, the malicious app could be collecting data in the background.
- Do your research on specific applications you want to download
Before you decide to download an app onto your phone, another good practice is to search the application on Google and see if it was involved in any recent data breaches or scams.
If previously involved in a data breach, take note of the way a company/developer handles the occurrence. A developer should take extreme precautionary measures to make certain this does not affect its users again, while also making sure the app’s security is heightened after a breach has already happened.
- Keep your phone’s software updated
Often times, OS updates are released to patch any device vulnerabilities that may allow hackers to access your data via malicious application downloads. By updating your device regularly, you can reduce the risk of hackers using data exploits to their advantage.
- Download legitimate applications from a trustworthy source, such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store
It is better to avoid any untrustworthy sources outside of reputable app stores, as a user runs the risk of downloading an app that may contain a virus onto their device.