The android community is gradually realizing that android devices send our personal information to private servers. Though some apps seek our permission before doing so, others simply don’t. But the underlying problem poses a greater threat.
A research team from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a survey titled ‘A Survey of Mobile Malware in the Wild’ and found that most malicious activities are after user information, in addition to malware that was aimed at ransom fraud, credential theft, and SMS spam.
And just last year, the Data Center of China Internet conducted a study, later cited by Tech in Asia, revealing that 35% of Android apps are doing more than simply collecting user information; they are tracking data that has no relevance to the app’s features, without gaining the consent of users. In essence, these apps are capturing more personal information than what most users realize.
A majority of free apps send and receive data with third-parties, without encrypting the information exchange. Some share user information with analytics companies and advertising networks, which raise privacy issues.
The number of apps infected with malware poses the greatest threat to user information. A report says that then number of malware-infected apps in the Play Store quadrupled from 2011 to 2013. In 2011, there were 11,000 in Google Play Store consisting of malware software capable of injecting viruses, committing fraud, and stealing user information. By 2013, 42,000 apps featured information-stealing Trojan programs and spyware.
What can you do to foil such apps?
The unfortunate truth is malware infected apps would never tell you why they need your permissions. Some apps might give a lengthy list of policies, but not all of them stick to their agreement. To ensure your privacy as a user, here are the steps you could take to stop apps from stealing your personal data:
Protect your personal data with comprehensive security
The Antivirus.com list of possible viruses reveals that high risk apps are still available on Google Play. 6 out of 10 Android users download free applications, which are FakeAV programs disguised as antivirus software but actually the opposite. Cybercriminals can inject worms, Trojan horses and more through such apps, so it’s time to take steps to ensure your personal data is properly protected. A proper antivirus solution will contain a privacy scanner to ensure that apps don’t steal your information.
Check default permissions
It’s a good time to see what’s in your mobile. Scrutinize the inventory of applications that access your location, and switch off the feature for apps that you don’t use. There is a Privacy section in the Settings menu of an Android device, from where location access can be toggled off. Also, when downloading new applications, make sure to uncheck the access location option; does that puzzle game really need to access your location? Think twice about granting such permission to applications you download in the future.
Keep your device updated
Whenever updates are recommended, install them; don’t wait too long to install the latest security updates. If there is an option to turn on automatic updates on your device, enable it. Though this might strain your battery life, the latest security implementations will safeguard your personal data.